New Law Legalizes Stop-Arm Cameras in New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation allowing school districts to install cameras that would record vehicles that illegally pass school buses when the stop-arm is extended. Fines would range from $250 to $1,000.

by Annalise Knudson, Staten Island Advance, N.Y. / August 19, 2019

(TNS) — If you illegally pass a parked school bus with a stop arm, a camera could soon capture your violation and issue you a fine.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation into law to allow school districts in New York State to install stop-arm cameras on school buses as early as Sept. 6.

According to the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), when drivers stop for a school bus with a stop-arm, they cannot drive again until the red lights stop flashing or when the bus driver or a traffic officer signals that the driver can proceed.

In cities and municipalities in New York State where the cameras are used, police would enforce the law by sending out tickets to violators caught on camera.

For New York City to install the cameras on school buses, the city Department of Education (DOE) told the Advance that the state legislation would require City Council approval, and an agreement with the city on how the program would be implemented.

HOW DOES THE TECHNOLOGY WORK?

Rekor Systems Inc., which already has one of the first contracts to implement stop-arm camera technology on school buses in Fallsburg, N.Y., told the Advance that its cameras are mounted on school buses and operate through the bus’ existing electrical system.

Robert Berman, president and CEO of Rekor Systems Inc., said his company works with local law enforcement agencies to capture violations on camera and issue tickets to vehicles that are illegally passing school buses.

When a school bus performs a stop to allow students on or off, the stop arm extends, and the camera captures a 180-degree video view of the violation, using tracking radar that enables precise detection of movement and passing distance from the bus.

“The enforcement component of the school bus camera obviously only works when the school bus is stopped and the arm is extended,” Berman said. “That’s what would create the trigger, and our cameras are designed to see multiple lanes over.”

If a vehicle illegally passes a stopped school bus, still images record the rear of the vehicle, capturing high-resolution vehicle plate images, using an artificial intelligence-based automated license plate reader, according to Berman.

“We have probably the most advanced vehicle recognition softwares in the world that are used to identify a car’s make, model, color, a body type and also captures the plate,” he said.

Berman added that the camera will also capture drivers who blow by a stopped school bus on the other side of a road or highway, including roads separated by a median. According to the New York DMV, drivers must stop for a school bus even if it’s on the opposite side of a divided highway.

“Our camera will capture that wide 180-degree view and go out more than five lanes over, which is more than sufficient to capture the other direction of traffic coming if there’s a median and so forth,” Berman explained.

The technology also provides precise location coordinates of the school bus that show where a violation occurs, he said, adding that the violation is then sent through 4G wireless transmission to Rekor and appropriate law enforcement agencies.

The fine for passing a school bus ranges from $250 for a first violation, to a maximum of $1,000 for three violations in three years, according to the DMV. If you are convicted of three of these violations in three years, your driver’s license will be revoked for a minimum of six months.

BUS SAFETY CONCERNS

Concerns about school bus-related safety surfaced on Staten Island last year, when drivers were seen making illegal U-turns in front of Barnes Intermediate School (I.S. 24), Great Kills, to avoid stopped school buses and traffic. It is illegal to make a U-turn in a school zone in New York State, according to the DMV.

In February, there were two separate incidents in which vehicles in Brooklyn drove on a sidewalk near a school -- almost mowing down school children and pedestrians. Footage captured children startled by a car that drove on a sidewalk. The vehicle nearly hit the kids, as they were getting off of a school bus in Brooklyn.

Former New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind posted a video of the footage on Twitter, calling on the New York Police Department to arrest the driver responsible.

Another vehicle in Brooklyn drove onto a sidewalk in front of a school to get around slow-moving traffic. In footage obtained and posted on Twitter by Williamsburg News, pedestrians on the corner of the sidewalk can be seen running out of the way when the truck jumps the curb.

©2019 Staten Island Advance, N.Y. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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