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Lewisboro Seeks To Make School Buses Safer

LEWISBORO, N.Y. – The Town of Lewisboro, in conjunction with the Katonah-Lewisboro School District, is looking into using new technology that would protect children when they exit a bus to cross the street.

“We would put camera systems on the buses, which are activated when the bus stops, the flashing lights come on, and the stop sign comes out,” said Councilman Peter DeLucia. “The camera will capture any vehicle that passes the school bus illegally.”

The system comes from the Rhode Island-based company SmartBus Live, which has developed combined state-of-the-art camera technology with proprietary back-end software, which makes up a comprehensive safety program that enables authorities to better enforce stop-arm violations.

SmartBus Live reviews the tapes and then informs local police of the infractions and then summonses are issued.

DeLucia said the use of SmartBus Live technology would not cost the town or the school district a cent.

“We would negotiate a contract with [SmartBus Live] and they would get a percentage of the fine money,” he said. “There are no upfront costs and no hiring of people. They do it all.”

DeLucia said the statistics for the number of children killed or injured by motorists who pass stopped school buses illegally are alarming. In fact, the New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) estimates that 35,000 to 50,000 motorists illegally pass stopped school buses each day in New York.

“There are multiple fatalities every year from people who can’t wait two minutes behind a stopped bus,” he said. “The revenue (from fines) is a bonus next to the way this acts as a deterrent.”

DeLucia said the town is taking the lead on the project and not the school board because it, along with the police department, would be the ones doing the prosecuting.

The councilman said the district has more buses on the road making multiple daily trips from an array of schools and would like to prevent a tragedy before it happens.

The hangup is state law would have to be changed in Albany before the town can move forward. As the law stands now, tickets can be only issued for such moving violations if a police officer witnesses it. Consequently, no municipality or school district in New York State currently employs the SmartBus technology.

“If we could move forward with a pilot program we would do it right now,” the councilman said.

DeLucia noted the town is working with state Senator Greg Ball and Assemblyman Robert Castelli to introduce legislation during the next session that would pave the way for SmartBus programs. He said both officials strongly back the idea.

“There is nothing more important than that the children be able to travel safely to and from school,” DeLucia said.

What do you think of the SmartBus Live program? Would you like to see it come to Lewisboro? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/TheDailyLewisboro

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