NYAPT cites Senator Catharine Young

ALBANY – The New York Association for Pupil Transportation is proud to cite Sen. Catharine Young (R,C,I-Olean) as a 2013 Legislator of the Year. Recognition of her work is based primarily on her introduction of legislation that would allow evidence collected by Stop Arm Cameras to be used to prosecute motorists who pass stopped school buses illegally.

NYAPT President Richard Gallagher noted that “illegal passing of stopped school buses is a real danger to our children. Our students trust that motorists will obey the law and stop for their school buses. It is so important that motorists stop for school buses. If they don’t, they should be penalized. Young’s proposed law will allow us to apprehend and penalize those who violate the law.”

NYAPT estimates that more than 50,000 motorists pass stopped school buses each and every day of the school year. In recent surveys of school bus drivers, the incidence of illegal passing was even higher than the 50,000 level. Increasingly, school bus drivers are reporting vehicles passing their buses on the curb or passenger side where children are lined up to board the bus and where they step off the bus to return to their homes.

Young’s legislation, which is sponsored in the State Assembly by Assembly Member William Magnarelli (D-Syracuse), would achieve the following objectives if enacted:

Authorizes the installation of video recording devices on school buses, specifically on or near the Stop Arm;

Authorizes the use of images collected by those video recording devices to be used to prosecute individuals who illegally pass stopped school buses;

Authorizes the installation of video recording devices on school buses, specifically on or near the Stop Arm;

Establishes a minimum fine of between $250-$400 with no points for a first violation when the violation is based on the camera-based evidence, with increasing penalties for repeat offenses; while retaining the current fine and penalties structure for all violations witnessed by a police officer;

Establishes a 60-day suspension of a motorist’s license for multiple convictions of violating Section 1174;

Establishes a crime of Assault in the 3rd degree when a motorist injures another individual as a result of illegally passing a stopped school bus;

Establishes a crime of Criminally Negligent Homicide when a motorist takes the life of another individual as a result of illegally passing a stopped school bus;

Allows school districts to enter into agreements with local law enforcement agencies in relation to the fines collected through use of video recording devices installed on school buses, including the capacity to receive funds to support costs incurred by the district through the use and maintenance of the cameras;

Allows school districts to enter into contracts with private vendors for installation, processing, notifications and other administrative functions related to the enforcement process;

Establishes a School Bus Safety Education Program fund derived from fines collected from violations of Section 1174 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law.

NYAPT praised Young for her hard work in bringing together the various elements of this legislation.

NYAPT Executive Director, Peter Mannella, noted that “NYAPT has long advocated for a multi-level approach that includes: (1) increasing public awareness of the laws related to illegal passing, (2) increasing the penalties for illegal passing particularly when a child is injured or killed, and (3) facilitating the use of stop arm cameras to aid in prosecution.

“Senator Young’s legislative proposal (S5028/A7350) will achieve each of those objectives and we are proud to endorse this legislation. We will work tirelessly in the upcoming legislative session to get this bill passed. It is our hope that this legislation will be passed by the Legislature before the 10th commemoration of the death of 8-year-old Mallory Eddy on May 21, 2004, by a motorist who passed her stopped school bus on the passenger side of the bus.”

NYAPT members presented Young with the Legislator of the Year award at a ceremony held in her Olean district office recently.

This year, the Association also cited Senator Charles Fuschillo as a Legislator of the Year for his legislation and advocacy related to drug and alcohol testing of school bus drivers.