Lawmakers push for cameras on the stop-arms of school buses

June 12, 2018 05:51 PM

ALBANY – A news conference late in the session at the NYS Capitol is usually buttoned up with visual aids and impassioned pleas. However, one was briefly interrupted on Tuesday while lawmakers were pushing for a bill to allow automated cameras on the stop-arms of school buses. No one minded.

"This is the right thing to do," said Raul Ampuero of Queens. His son Giovanni, 9, was hit on April 28 while crossing the street. "There's no buts."

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Ampuero and Amy Cohen were at the Capitol on another matter but crashed the press conference. Their school kids were crossing the street, hit and killed. They say whatever helps ease the pain of another parent is worth it.

"It's 4 1/2 years since I kissed my son goodbye," Cohen said of Sammy Cohen Eckstein, 12, who was killed October 8, 2013, while walking home from school. "I said 'I love you' and he was killed on the way home from school and this does not need to happen."

The bill is backed by Sen. Catharine Young (R, C, I Olean) and Assem. William Magnarelli (D, WF, I Syracuse) and calls for the use of cameras to record and ticket drivers who pass a stopped school bus picking up or dropping off students.

"The New York Association of Pupil Transportation most recent survey found a scary level of 2,047 illegal right-side passes," said Young.

Upwards of 50,000 drivers pass a stopped, working-bus each day in New York State, the association said. Right now drivers who pass stopped school buses can only be ticketed if an officer witnesses it. The camera would capture the image of the license plate as further evidence for prosecuting violators.

"You know we have such an emphasis on protecting our schools and protecting our most valuable resource which are our children, you'd think maybe we should start when the kids are trying to get on the bus," said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.

The fine for passing the stopped bus would still be $250 but no points on the license or jail time.

MORE INFORMATION: You can read the full bill here.


John Craig

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