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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 6, 2017 11:59 AM
From: Representative W. Curtis Thomas
To: All House members
Subject: School Bus Cameras
In the near future, I plan to re-introduce legislation that would not only increase safety for students who ride school buses, but also would address the common and persistent problem of illegally passing school buses that are stopped to board or disembark students.

My bill would establish a pilot program, funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, to place cameras on the exterior of school buses in a rural, suburban and urban school district. The goal of the pilot program is to allow the department to collect data, review the efficacy of the program and make recommendations, including a cost-benefit analysis, to the General Assembly.

In a 2014 survey of more than 97,000 school bus drivers in 29 states organized by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services bus drivers identified 75,966 vehicles that illegally passed their buses on a single day. Each time a vehicle illegally passes a stopped school bus, the lives of children are put at risk.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that on an annual basis approximately 450,000 public school buses travel about 4.3 billion miles, transporting 23.5 million children to and from school and school-related activities.

According to the latest NHTSA data, since 2000, 1,386 people have died in school transportation-related crashes – an average of 139 fatalities per year. Occupants of school transportation vehicles accounted for 8 percent of the fatalities and non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists etc.) accounted for 20 percent of the fatalities.

My proposal would give Pennsylvania the opportunity to study the technology, its impact and cost. And in the process, we will raise awareness to the danger of illegally passing stopped school buses. Whether it is because of a lack of knowledge of Pennsylvania’s laws, impatient drivers or distracted drivers, using cameras on school buses and increasing awareness through education and enforcement will mitigate the number of offenses.

Nationally, a number of states have laws that allow cameras to be placed on the outside of school buses: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.

(Formerly HB 1738 of 2015-16 Legislative Session)

Introduced as HB540