Alarming: 150 Illegal School Buses Passes in Oneida County in First Month of School
In just the first three-and-a-half weeks of the school year, the Oneida County Sheriff's Office has issued nearly 150 tickets for illegally passing school buses.
A camera system on the buses records vehicles that illegally pass buses when the stop arm is extended - when students are either in the process of entering or exiting the yellow buses.
"The total through Friday of last week is 147," Sheriff Rob Maciol said, noted that the cameras are only installed on seven school districts within the county - only about half -and does not include the county's biggest district, the city of Utica. "We're eligible to put cameras on every bus within the district except for the city of Utica."
The districts that have cameras are Rome, Sauquoit, New York Mills, Whitesboro, New Hartford, Waterville, Westmoreland, he said - which averages about two violations per day.
The ticket is considered a civil penalty, Maciol explained, and totals $250.
"Obviously the way the system is setup, you are innocent until proven guilty. So you can plead not guilty and they will also have an opportunity to go to court - but we will provide them with video that shows the vehicle illegally passing the school bus," Maciol said.
The Sheriff said the cost of the cameras and technology that record the violations was free, but said half of the money for each violation is shared with the company that provided the cameras - as a way to pay for the service.
Maciol also underscored that a member of the sheriff's office reviews each and every alleged violation, saying tickets are issued for 'legitimate' passes, saying a large number of incidents occur on narrow neighborhood streets, creating an even more dangerous situation for the students.
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