Passing School Bus Camera Act could be olive branch by Dems

State Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, recently told the Buffalo News that Senate Democrats are “committed to breaking the Albany mold” and plan to be “sensitive to regional needs” when they take control of the state Senate in January.

If that’s really true, then Democrats in the Senate and Assembly will pass the School Bus Camera Safety Act. The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, has passed the state Senate for the past several years only to expire in the state Assembly. The measure would allow school districts and school bus companies to install automated cameras to detect and capture images of vehicles that pass stopped school buses so that lawbreakers can be ticketed and fined. In states where the technology is already in use, reports indicate that the cameras reduce the incidence of these violations between 30 to 50 percent.

Again, this would only allow these cameras — not require them. But some school districts might see them as a valuable option.

In early November, there were several deaths and injuries of young children in four states over a three-day span. At least three of the cases involved reckless drivers who illegally passed the buses that had stopped to pick up the students. In their desire to avoid waiting a few seconds, those drivers caused catastrophe, injury and death.

“No parent should have to endure such a loss or even worry that the simple act of taking the bus to school could be so dangerous,” Young said in a news release. “Yet, statistics tell us that our children are at risk. Here in New York upwards of 50,000 cars each day illegally pass stopped school buses, endangering countless children in the process.”

If Gianaris is serious about breaking the old Albany mold, the School Bus Camera Safety Act is a good place to start.

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