Long Island school bus drivers rack up red-light violations

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LONG ISLAND — School bus drivers violated nearly 1,500 red lights in Westchester and Suffolk Counties in recent years, a new report found.

More than 2.3 million New York children ride buses to school every day, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. Problematic phrasing of current law means a bus driver can receive an infinite number of red light camera tickets and remain as a school bus driver.

"New York law has a safety loophole big enough to drive a school bus through,” Schneiderman said.

A school bus driver who gets three red light tickets from a police officer within 18 months is disqualified from driving a school bus for a year. But tickets from red-light violations caught by traffic cameras are sent to bus companies rather than to the actual drivers. The loophole means the drivers are shielded by the bus company.

Schneiderman proposed a new law Tuesday to require school bus companies to report all red-light camera violations to the DMV and school districts.

"It’s time for action to protect our kids by requiring bus companies to report red light violations to the state and the school districts they serve, and to use those violations in driver evaluations," Schneiderman said. "We must crack down on the problem now, before it turns tragic.”

There are about 115 fatal crashes involving school buses every year across the country, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s 2017 Report on School Safety.

Parents want to trust the buses their kids ride to school," said Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY). He also believes additional steps need to be taken to make school buses safer.

“As a father, I wanted to know when I sent my children off to school in the morning, they were safe and secure on the bus," Engel  said. "We can never be too careful when it comes to our children’s safety."