The Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee has passed legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Holzapfel (R-10) that seeks to deter dangerous driving that may harm children as they board or exit a school bus.
Sen. Jim Holzapfel’s legislation seeks to deter dangerous driving that may harm children as they board or exit a school bus. (SenateNJ.com)
The legislation, S-211, establishes a pilot program for municipalities and school districts to use video monitoring systems to help enforce laws against illegally passing a school bus.
“Many of the children who are killed and injured in school bus related accidents are struck by drivers who illegally pass a bus while the red lights are flashing and the stop sign is extended,” said Holzapfel. “The sad truth is that many drivers choose to break the law in such a dangerous manner because they think they can get away with it. Installing cameras to catch every driver who passes a school bus illegally will be an effective deterrent.”
The 2013-2014 National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey found that approximately half of the fatalities occurred as children crossing a street to board or after exiting a school bus were hit by passing vehicles that ignored the flashing lights and extended stop sign on the bus that require them to stop.
Without the use of cameras, drivers know they are unlikely to receive a ticket for illegally passing a school bus unless a police officer is present to witness the violation or the bus driver manages to write down their license plate number, which rarely happens.
Camera systems will allow police departments and school districts to consistently identify and cite drivers who break the law. The legislation requires that a police officer review recorded footage to determine when a citation should be issued.
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Drivers who receive tickets resulting from footage captured with a camera system would be subject to a fine of $300 to $500. Points would not be assessed as a result of violations generated with the assistance of cameras.
“We’ve had bus drivers warn us that they get passed illegally every single day,” added Holzapfel. “They’re all scared to death that one of their kids will be the next one that’s hit. This legislation will help us to deter illegal passings and prevent that next tragedy.”
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