NJ school buses could soon have cameras to help ticket cars
Since 2014, a total of 9,455 tickets have been issued to drivers in New Jersey for passing a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing as students are getting on or off.
Police acknowledge the actual number of violations is probably much higher because officers are not watching every school bus in the Garden State.
Now that kids are back in class, a new effort is moving forward to pass legislation that would allow video cameras to be mounted on the sides of school buses to ensure all drivers that pass a stopped school bus are ticketed.
A measure sponsored by Assemblyman Rob Karabinchak, D-Middlesex, would authorize the use of a school bus monitoring system to identify drivers who do not stop for school buses, and send them a ticket in the mail.
He said there is no excuse for not stopping for a school bus with flashing lights.
“This is something I feel extremely strong about," he said. "Our students safety is paramount.”
He pointed out younger children and even older ones may not look around them to see if there is any traffic, so “our drivers should have a higher priority that when you’re near a bus."
The measure calls for stiff fines: $250 for a first offense and up to $500 and community service for subsequent violations.
Karabinchak said tough penalties for drivers are needed because “they’re not paying attention."
"There’s so many distractions today with drivers, whether they’re on their phone, whether there’s somebody else in the car," he said.
“This should be something that is taught to young adults that are just getting their licenses, people that are coming from other places that are getting their licenses.”
Under the proposed legislation, if a ticket is issued for passing a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing, there would be a monetary fine but no points added to the driver’s record.
If a police officer witnesses a driver passing a school bus, the penalty is a $100 fine, possible community service and even jail time for no longer than 15 days, and five points added to the driver’s record.
Legislation was introduced to allow video monitoring on the sides of school buses a few years ago, but those efforts got bogged down because of concerns about cost.
However, the cost of video monitoring continues to drop and Karabinchak is confident the Legislature will approve the measure in the coming session.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com