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Sidney CSD puts safety first with bus cameras
Over the past few years, it’s been almost commonplace to hear about impatient drivers going around school buses that have their red lights flashing. 
 
The danger involved in doing this has school districts around the state and country looking for ways to curb this from happening.
In August, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation authorizing school districts to install stop-arm cameras on school buses in order to catch these drivers who unlawfully pass a stopped school bus. 
 
Despite the law being in place to not pass a stopped school bus, people ignore the flashing red lights. Videos have been captured of motorists passing on the left, and even on the right on sidewalks. During Operation Safe Stop this past April, more than 850 people were ticketed around the state for ignoring a stopped school bus. According to a media release from that state, that amounts to more than 150,000 times during a 180-day school year. 
 
In Sidney, the numbers have diminished over the past few years. So, while this new legislation is welcomed, the Sidney Central School District has been ahead of this for a few years. 
 
All buses are equipped with several cameras that capture the outside of the bus. The images these cameras produce are extremely high quality, and allow district officials to turn the images over to law enforcement as evidence.
 
“The Sidney Central School District has been very proactive in our approach to student safety,” Superintendent Eben Bullock said. “We have seen the numbers of people passing school buses in our district dwindle over the past few years.”
 
Transportation Supervisor Doug Russell said the district has had these cameras for three years. The first year, cameras nabbed 15 people passing buses. Last year and this year are each fewer than five.
 
Word of mouth has probably helped the cases, with people realizing they can be ticketed because of these cameras.
 
“The cameras are very important,” he said. “If people keep getting away with it, somebody could get killed. If we don’t have the evidence, we can’t help law enforcement give tickets. These cameras are very clear in what they show.”
 
Recently. Bullock and Sidney Police Chief Eric Oliver looked at the buses to see how everything was working. In the parking lot, the two used a Sidney CSD vehicle to pass a bus with the lights on, to see everything these cameras can catch (please see video below). 
 
As you can see in the video, the cameras catch several different angles as a vehicle passes a bus. The videos are saved automatically and then retrieved. If a vehicle should pass a bus, the driver radios the main bus garage to let them know – allowing officials to note the time and find the offending driver that much faster.
 
The images and video captured on Sidney CSD buses when an illegal passing occurs have helped law enforcement officials ticket offending drivers, who can face steep penalties. For a first conviction, offenders could receive a fine anywhere from $250-400, as well as five points on their license and up to 30 days in jail. A second conviction (within three years) could raise the fines to $600-750, with up to 180 days in jail. A third or subsequent convictions (within three years) can be a fine of $750-1,000, with possible jail time of up to 180 days. 
 
“Besides the fines and possible jail time, there are even more severe scenarios in regard to passing a school bus,” Bullock said. “We implore all drivers to please respect the red lights and don’t pass a stopped school bus. The best way to avoid a possible tragedy is to not put yourself in the position to create one.”
 
For a simulation video with the cameras, please see below. Also, please see photos from the camera and of the cameras below.  
 
Sidney Central School District
95 West Main Street  |  Sidney, NY 13838  |   Phone: 607.563.2135  |   Fax: 607.563.2386
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