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School bus safety bills, including targeting illegal passing, move forward in Assembly

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A series of bills that advocates say will help improve school safety in New York State passed a key legislative committee on Tuesday.

The Assembly Transportation Committee reported out five bills, moving them to further committees, including one measure that would allow stop arm cameras to be installed on school buses. Members of New York’s Association for Pupil Transportation have been advocating for legislation to, among other things, help law enforcement officials catch drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses.

“These (bills) have been priorities of the school transportation community and we are pleased to see them advance like this,” Peter Mannella, Executive Director of New York’s Association for Pupil Transportation, said in a statement.

When a bill is reported out by the Assembly committee, that means it passed in that committee. In this instance, they will move to the codes committee for further consideration.

The stop arm camera legislation would be discretionary for school boards to pass a resolution authorizing the cameras to be installed and used on buses. Enforcement of illegally passing school buses has become the focus of a yearly crackdown on drivers on New York’s roads in recent years.

An estimated 54,962 drivers statewide passed a school bus on a single day in March 2017. Nationwide, an estimated 10 million drivers illegally pass stopped school buses each year.

A first-time conviction for illegally passing a school bus could result in fines ranging from $250 to $400, five points on the drivers’ license and potentially 30 days in jail.

Not every incident involves in a ticket issued against the driver, according to police. Sometimes a warning is given.

Another of the bills, which was designed to enhance drug and alcohol testing protocols for school bus drivers, was sponsored by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell.

The legislation would increase the number of drivers who are subjected to such testing, as well as increasing the number of hours that must elapse before a driver can operate a school bus.

“School bus drivers are entrusted with transporting students to and from school safely,” Lupardo said in a statement Tuesday.

“Under current law, drivers of smaller buses are not required to be tested for drugs and alcohol,” she said. “By closing this loophole, we’ll make the school commute safer for children and for other motorists on the road. I’m glad this bill has made it out of the Transportation Committee and is one step closer to a vote on the Assembly floor.”
Other bills reported out Tuesday in the Assembly’s Transportation Committee included:

Creation of a fund to promote awareness of school bus safety and particularly increase public understanding about the dangers of illegal passing.

Doubling fines for drivers of large commercial vehicles that pass stopped school buses.
Providing license suspension for multiple convictions of illegally passing stopped school buses. It would impose a 60-day suspension on any motorist who is convicted two or more times of illegally passing a stopped school bus.

Source: https://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/local/2018/06/05/school-bus-safety-assembly/673953002/

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School buses

Student, Driver Escape Burning School Bus in New Jersey

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A school bus caught fire and became engulfed in flames while on a route to school in New Jersey Tuesday morning, police say.

The bus, which was headed to Joyce Kilmer Elementary School in Mahwah, had just picked up its first student, 11-year-old Rocco Arcese, when Arcese alerted the driver to the smell of smoke.

“I was like, ‘We should get off,” Arcese told News 4.

Flames quickly spread and engulfed the entire bus within minutes, ravaging the entire front of the bus and burning the seats inside.

“I saw burning rubber falling from the bottom, and flames,” Arcese said.

The driver and the boy quickly got off the bus, and responding firefighters knocked out the blaze. No injuries were reported.

As soon as they were safe, Arcese called his mother, who at first didn’t believe him. Then her son’s cool demeanor helped calm her nerves, she said.

“He’s such a calm kid, and I knew he was OK,” Stacy-Perone Arcese, Rocco’s mother, said. “And I was OK ’cause I knew he’d be OK.”

Arcese said it’s not the first time he smelled smoke on a bus. His mother hopes it’s the last.

“I think they all maybe need to be revamped in some way, shape or form,” she said.

The fire is believed to have been caused by a mechanical problem, according to the fire chief.

It wasn’t the only scare involving a school bus across the Tri-State on Tuesday morning. Five elementary age children were taken to a hospital with minor injuries after their mini school bus careened into a house on Long Island. The school bus driver was also hospitalized. The cause of the crash in Amityville was under investigation.

from official BBC website

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NY Senator: Cameras can catch cars illegally passing school buses

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A New York state senator wants to use cameras to catch motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses.

Republican Sen. Catharine Young’s proposal would allow the cameras to be mounted on the stop arm of a bus and record any car that passes when the arm is extended.

Young, from Olean, says the evidence from the cameras could be used to issue tickets to motorists who break the law. She cited studies estimating that drivers around New York state pass school buses thousands of times each day.

She says similar proposals have been introduced in state legislatures around the country as a way to crack down on motorists who put children at risk.

Young and other supporters plan to discuss the legislation at a press conference Tuesday.

Source: http://cnycentral.com/news/local/ny-senator-cameras-can-catch-cars-illegally-passing-school-buses

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Educational bus transportation driver Vicky Jarvis named “Nassau Nyapt driver of the year”

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Vicky Jarvis, a school bus driver with Educational Bus Transportation, has received the “Driver of the Year” award from the Nassau Chapter of the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT). The announcement was made by NYAPT Nassau Chapter President Keyana Wright.

“The Nassau NYAPT Chapter is proud to recognize Vicky Jarvis, who provides exemplary school bus transportation service. Drivers like Vicky perform their duties with the utmost concern for our students’ safety and welfare. For this we honor Vicky today by naming her Driver of the Year.”

Keith DiBlasi, a parent in the Seaford Union Free School District, nominated Jarvis, who has driven his daughters and her classmates to and from school for nearly two years. He noted that “Miss Vicky,” as she is referred to by the children, “is a friendly face with a positive and upbeat disposition who greets each child with a smile and by name every morning. In addition to performing her primary duties safely and on schedule, she goes over and above the call of duty, driven by a genuine concern for the children in her charge.” DiBlasi detailed numerous examples of why he nominated Jarvis for Nassau NYAPT Driver of the Year, concluding, “Miss Vicky is clearly the type that takes pride in all aspects of her work and prioritizes child safety in a way that sets an example for all professionals charged with child care.”

Educational Bus Transportation President Sean Corr observed, “Everyone at Educational Bus Transportation joins me in congratulating Vicky on this honor. She is a dedicated school bus driver who exemplifies our emphasis on safety and our concern for the students we transport. She is also a wonderful person and who is very deserving of this award.”

Educational Bus Transportation, a member organization of The Trans Group, serves school districts in eastern Nassau and western Suffolk counties. This is the second year in a row one of its drivers was named Nassau NYAPT Driver of the Year, with driver Deanna Jankowski honored last year.

The Trans Group provides transportation to hundreds of thousands of passengers annually in lower New York state and Long Island. With more than 1,300 vehicles and over 2,000 employees, The Trans Group is actively involved in the school bus industry on the state and federal level. More information is available at www.thetransgroup.com.

Source: http://www.stnonline.com/news/latest-news/item/9506-education-bus-transportation-driver-vicky-jarvis-named-nassau-nyapt-driver-of-the-year

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