Watch out for school buses

On most mornings and afternoons during the school year, navigating your way through traffic can be tricky.  It's nearly impossible to make a Capital Region commute without seeing fleets of large school buses either taking students to school or dropping them off at home.

New York City School Bus Drivers On Verge Of Strike
Getty Images

Ultimately, it's your responsibility to anticipate frequent stops, and if you're not paying attention for a split-second when a school bus comes to a stop, you're more than likely going to pay a hefty fine - or worse, injure a kid.

Many buses use stop-arm cameras

Stop-arm cameras have been around since 2019, and more and more school districts throughout New York State are now using them, including schools in Albany County and many throughout the area.
The new school bus camera law empowers school districts and municipalities to use stop-arm cameras on school buses to "hold vehicle owners responsible for their cars passing a stopped school bus."

What is a stop-arm camera?

According to a press release by city officials, Albany County partnered with safety technology company BusPatrol "to safeguard students on the journey to and from school."

The press release denotes that all school districts in Albany County "now have access to advanced safety technology including AI-powered stop-arm cameras to deter motorists from illegally passing stopped school buses."

How do stop-arm cameras work?

Stop-arm cameras identify illegal passers-by's license plate numbers. Negligent drivers will be issued a ticket to the vehicle’s registered owner unless the automobile is proven stolen during the time of the offense.

Photo: Canva
Photo: Canva

What's the fine?

According to data, 94% of first-time offenders do not receive a second ticket, and 95% of drivers do not contest their ticket after seeing video evidence of their violation.

In New York State, a first-time stop-arm violation carries a fine of $250. Subsequent violations within an eighteen-month period could incur a $25 increase in penalty, up to a maximum of $300.

When to stop for a school bus in New York

  • When a school bus stops and flashes its red lights, traffic approaching from either direction must stop before reaching the bus on a two-lane road, multi-lane highway, and on a divided highway.
  • Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Slow down and prepare to stop your vehicle.
  • Red flashing lights mean the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Stop your vehicle and wait until the school bus resumes motion or until signaled by the driver or police officer to proceed.

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