New Jersey weighs plan to pay for school-bus cameras with fines on drivers

New Jersey is considering whether to use fines from  drivers who illegally pass a school bus to pay for installing exterior cameras on the buses.(Sonyae/Bigstock)

New Jersey is considering whether to use fines from drivers who illegally pass a school bus to pay for installing exterior cameras on the buses.(Sonyae/Bigstock)

Groups representing schools, teachers and parents in New Jersey are supporting legislation intended to improve school bus safety.

Under the measure, fines on drivers who illegally pass a school bus would pay for installing exterior cameras on the buses.

Joann Ciccotelli, who drives a school bus in Dennis Township, said enacting the measure would help bus drivers keep kids safer.

“It would help drivers who are rarely in a position to take down an offender’s license plate while driving and managing students on the bus but do not want to see offenders get away with their crime,” she said.

The cameras could save lives by directly monitoring driver behavior that endangers children, said Nicole Moore, principal of Indian Mills Elementary School in Shamong Township. 

“As a mother and a school principal, I will never stop worrying about my kids,” she said. “But this legislation will allow me to breathe a little easier knowing that we are doing everything we can to protect them.”

Jonathan Pushman with the New Jersey School Boards Association also supports the measure.

“School bus drivers may not always be able to accurately identify the vehicle in question,” he said. “School bus arm safety cameras will provide those drivers, as well as police officers and judges, with nearly indisputable evidence that will hold violators accountable.”

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, opposes the legislation.

“This would reintroduce for-profit enforcement of our traffic laws and we had a horrible bout with that with red-light cameras,” he said.

O’Scanlon said the recorded images would result in technical violations that could hit drivers with a $300 fine for stopping just a few feet closer to a bus than the legal distance.

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