Lawmakers propose new bill to crack down on illegal school bus passing

Last month, the City of Bridgeport released eye-opening footage, as well as a report, of nearly 10,000 drivers illegally passing stopped school buses over a six-month span starting in August 2022.

Justin DeVellis and Robyn Karashik

Mar 12, 2024, 9:17 PM

Updated 37 days ago

Share:

Local officials testified in Hartford on Tuesday in support of a new bill that would crack down on drivers illegally passing school buses.
Illegal school bus passing is a serious problem in Connecticut and across the nation. Lawmakers said giving towns and cities more power to enforce state law will lead to safer streets.
Last month, the City of Bridgeport released eye-opening footage, as well as a report, of nearly 10,000 drivers illegally passing stopped school buses over a six-month span starting in August 2022.
“There’s a bus stop right by my home. kids have to either run past before they even see the car passing right by. It’s insane,” said Michelle Reyes, a Bridgeport parent.
In Connecticut, the Stop Arm Law prohibits a vehicle from overtaking or passing a stopped school bus displaying its flashing red signal lights. Bridgeport officials said a technicality in the law prevents the city from better enforcing that state law.
With the help of lawmakers, one company is hoping a new bill will save lives.
“So you see a lack of enforcement and you see a lot of people — if you’re late for that meeting — you blow past the school bus,” said Steve Randazzo, the chief growth officer of BusPatrol America.
Randazzo said BusPatrol America has mounted cameras on 30,000 buses in 16 states that track cars passing stopped buses and issue tickets.
On Tuesday, lawmakers considered a plan to implement that same plan in Connecticut. The new bill would empower towns and cities to crack down on drivers illegally passing school buses – starting with imposing a $250 fine and mounting automated cameras on buses to issue infraction tickets, similar to speed and red light cameras coming to Connecticut soon.
The fine wouldn’t go on the drivers’ record and there would be a 30-day period to challenge the ticket.
“Ninety-percent of folks who receive a violation never break the law again,” said Randazzo.
State Sen. Harron Gaston said the bill is on par with what’s happening in surrounding states. Parents said passing the bill would make them feel safer and eliminate unnecessary and potentially fatal accidents.
“I think having that ticket going straight towards them would probably stop drivers from passing the stop signs,” said Jessica Lawrence.
Lawmakers said there’s still work to be done.
“I want to make sure that there’s going to be an actual reduction because right now we’re seeing an increase in the amount of people breaking the law whether it’s a traffic sign, stop sign, red light,” said State Sen. Paul Cicarella.
Lawmakers said money from the fines would go directly back into the town or city and images captured on cameras could not be used in any other prosecution.
BusPatrol America has already installed cameras on nearly 75 buses in Bridgeport.


More from News 12