YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says school bus drivers have been racking up red light camera violations, without facing stiff repercussions.
The attorney general released the results of a chilling report Tuesday, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.
As CBS2’s Elise Finch reported, a red light camera at the busy intersection of Central Avenue and Arlington Street in Yonkers caught one school bus racing through the light almost three seconds after it turned red.
“I was shocked,” said Yonkers PTA Council President Sally Pinto.
“Completely shocked that this was happening on such a consistent basis in our community,” added New Rochelle parent Suyen Taylor.
Incidents like this prompted the attorney general to conduct a bus safety investigation.
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Members of his office subpoenaed records from 15 companies – chosen at random – in Westchester and Suffolk counties. They found nearly 1,500 red light camera violations in the two counties between 2014 and 2016.
Bus companies know who the offending drivers are, because they are required to keep records of who’s driving what bus and when, Finch reported. But under current law, they are not required to report the violations, because the drivers were caught by cameras not cops.
“So if a school bus driver got three tickets from running red lights from police within an 18-month period, they would get nine points on their license and be disqualified from driving a school bus for a year,” Schneiderman said. “But if that same driver got three red light camera tickets in the same time frame, he would get no points on his license and could continue to drive a bus.”
The attorney general said a gap in the law prevents the state from going after those drivers, so his office is working to close that loophole.
“First, we propose that bus companies must be required to report red light camera tickets and the offending drivers to the DMV. They have to be treated like other traffic infractions. If the state doesn’t have the information, we can’t implement the necessary policies or procedures to protect our kids,” he said. “Second, bus companies must be required to consider red light camera offenses in their evaluations of drivers.”
Repeat offenders could have their licenses revoked, Adams reported.
Schneiderman also wants school bus companies to provide an annual report on red light camera violations to school districts.
Parents that Finch spoke with said they want school bus drivers held accountable for the tickets they get, no matter how those tickets are issued.
“We’re talking about lives, we’re talking about our young children, other pedestrians, other drivers,” New Rochelle PTA Council Co-President Michelle Balachandran said.
CBS2 reached out to a number of the bus companies, but none would comment.
Schneiderman said his proposal has bi-partisan support and will be submitted to the state legislature as soon as lawmakers reconvene.