Schumer urges feds to finish study on school-bus cameras

Sen. Chuck Schumer pressed a federal agency this week to complete a study it started four years ago to evaluate the effectiveness of mounting cameras on school buses to catch and fine drivers who endanger children by illegally passing stopped buses.

New York endorsed that deterrent this year with a law that allows counties to invite their school districts to have cameras placed on the stop arms of their buses. Orange County is poised to pass a law next week to begin a voluntary camera program, and will be one of the first counties in New York to act on the new state law. County officials say the cost will be covered by fine revenue, at no expense to the county or any participating districts.

Schumer, wading into the same safety issue, released a letter on Wednesday that he sent to the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reminding her that her agency announced four year ago it would collect data on whether bus cameras reduce the number of drivers illegally passing stopped buses.

He urged the NHTSA to “swiftly release this study and, if deemed fit, to revise its safety guidelines to recommend that all states implement stop-arm camera enforcement programs.” He noted that at least 21 states, including New York, have now started installing cameras on school buses or given districts the option to do so.

In a press release, Schumer said 50,000 drivers pass stopped school buses on an average day in New York, and charged the NHTSA had “slow walked” its report on bus cameras and hindered safety improvements as a result.

“So my message to the feds is simple: it’s time to slow down cars and speed up the release of this potentially life-saving report, and if deemed necessary, change safety standards to require the installation of these cameras on all new school buses,” Schumer said.

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