Governor Wolf Signs Senators Browne and Bartolotta’s Bill to Strengthen School Bus Stop Arm Law

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HARRISBURG, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today (July 1) signed into law measures designed to strengthen and improve the state’s School Bus Stop Arm Camera Law, helping to further ensure the safety and protection of the Commonwealth’s children as they travel to and from school, according to Senators Pat Browne (R-16) and Camera Bartolotta (R-46).

The measures had previously passed the Senate and House of Representatives unanimously.

Browne and Bartolotta worked jointly on an amendment to House Bill 364 (now Act 38), which contained important new provisions intended to build upon the legislature’s previous School Bus Camera Law (Act 159 of 2018). That legislation – prime sponsored by Senator Browne – addressed the serious safety issues created by motorists illegally passing stopped school buses when the safety lights and arm bar had been deployed.

“I am immensely proud of the work that the legislature has done to create a safer environment for students all across the Commonwealth,” Senator Browne said. “After hearing from school districts, law enforcement and parents, it became evident that more had to be done to address this serious safety concern. There is no doubt that the provisions contained in Act 38 will help to rectify this rampant problem and provide a safer environment for our children.”

Limited Stop Arm Camera Pilot Programs were recently instituted in select school districts across the state, including the Allentown School District (Browne’s district) and Trinity Area School District (Bartolotta’s district). Data collected by the studies showed that, despite Act 159’s enactment, an exorbitant amount of motorists are still violating the state’s stop arm law. The Allentown Pilot Program alone logged 205 violations over a nearly four-month period.

“Getting on and off the school bus is among the most dangerous times of the day for many young people, and the number of individuals who ignore the law and endanger our children is disheartening,” Bartolotta said. “I appreciated the chance to collaborate with Senator Browne to create another layer of protection for young people and hopefully bring more awareness to the need for all motorists to observe school bus stopping laws.”

The pilot programs were conducted by Bus Patrol™, a leading stop arm camera and school bus safety company.

Following the review of the pilot programs, Browne and Bartolotta worked collaboratively to craft amendments to the statute that would strengthen the enforcement of the current law and increase the number of buses in districts across the Commonwealth equipped with stop arm cameras. The new law provides a structure, utilized widely in other states, for stop arm camera companies to enter into contracts with school districts and local police to provide their services free-of-charge in exchange for part of the revenue generated by the fine. A $300 civil penalty is assessed to motorists violating the state’s School Bus Stop Arm Camera law caught by a stop arm camera. In addition, funds from each fine are also allocated to the participating local police department, to defray costs of implementing the program, and the state’s School Bus Safety Grant Program, designed to educate motorists and bring greater public awareness to this safety issue.

Local police departments will review evidence packages created by the stop arm cameras and certify that a violation has taken place before a notice of violation is sent to the motorist. Privacy provisions are included to protect the identity of the motorist and the public.

In the past, the School Bus Passing Law has been notoriously hard to enforce, as school bus drivers have had to quickly collect pertinent detailed information about the incident, while performing their duties, or law enforcement had to catch a motorist committing a violation.

Act 38 will take effect in 60 days.

 

 
Information provided to TVL by:
Matt Szuchyt
Deputy Director of Policy & Communications
Senator Pat Browne
Majority Appropriations Chairman
PA 16th Senatorial District
www.senatorbrowne.com