BROOKHAVEN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Cameras on school buses may soon be watching drivers on the road.
On Thursday, advocates unveiled what they called dramatic proof that cameras are needed to keep children safe.
School officials claim drivers illegally speed past stopped school buses an estimated 50,000 times per day in New York state.
Now, it’s being caught on camera.
“I don’t think they do it on purpose, some of them don’t know,” Longwood School District Director of Transportation Gayle Winsper said.
As CBS2’s Alice Gainer explained, Winsper understands the consequences.
As a bus driver she helplessly watched a car strike a child.
“I can close my eyes to this day, and it happened 30-years-ago, and see that little boy in the road,” she said.
Now, as transportation director she has launched a pilot program and equipped three buses with stop arm cameras.
In just six days cameras caught 38 drivers ignoring flashing red lights and stop signs.
Even when CBS2’s news van was following a bus, drivers broke the law.
“I don’t know if they’re texting, but they are definitely distracted, and it’s an every day occurrence, and it’s a problem,” Tommy Smith of Suffolk Transportation Service said.
Suffolk Legislator Kate Browning is pushing to make the cameras standard issue in New York state.
“They’re getting on a bus and off a bus, and people just fly right by,” she said.
A new state law could impose fines.
“If they get a ticket it’s their fault because they weren’t looking out for the little kids or they weren’t stopping,” she said.
Critics called it government intrusion, a money grab like those hated and ultimately scrapped school speed zone cameras.
Some motorists did say that they understood the rationale.
“It’s definitely different and I see people do it all the time and it worries me,” one driver said.
Advocates insisted that the cameras are not about revenue, they are about saving lives. Last year in New York state, drivers passing stopped school buses hit 35 children.
Thirteen states including Connecticut allow stop arm cameras on school buses.
Bills have been proposed in New York and New Jersey. AAA said an education campaign should go with the new laws.