A board member of the National Motorists Association disagrees with an article printed in the Dec. 20 edition of the Wellsboro Gazette and the Dec. 26 edition of the Free Press Courier.
According to James C. Walker of Ann Arbor, Mich., “people should always remember that more than 63 percent of the under age 19 pedestrians killed in school transportation related crashes are killed by the buses — not by passing cars, per data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covering from 1999 through 2016.
“Wouldn’t there be a better safety return to find some electronics to stop the bus drivers from causing those fatalities — before going after the much smaller proportion due to passing cars?” Walker said.
Walker, 74 who has been licensed for 58 years, has more than 1.1 million miles of driving experience in 27 countries, and has been studying these issues for more than 50 years.
“I work closely with the safety department of the Michigan State Police and testify frequently before state legislative committees on proposed legislation that affects traffic safety and other motorists issues,” Walker said.
According to statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Walker’s claims are accurate.
In the past nine years, there have been an average of 119 child pedestrian fatalities nationwide, with 69 percent caused by bus vehicles and 31 percent caused by passing vehicles.
Another member of the association, Thomas McCarey, noted that Act 159 of 2018, allowing stop-arm cameras, may not be legal.
“It allows automated cameras to cite a vehicle owner with a criminal violation for illegal school bus passing. The penalty is a fine, points, and license suspension. The bill assumes the vehicle owner was driving, or requires proof that the owner was not driving. How do you prove you were not driving a few months later?” he said.
It also limits allowed defenses. Under the American legal system, for a criminal moving violation, it is necessary for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt who was driving, that a violation was committed, and allow any defenses. You need not prove innocence in America, or provide any info, they must prove you guilty
“This law fails that basic test,” he said. ”It would seem you merely need to ask the judge to throw out the ticket and he should. Say the law does not seem valid. Even if the law is allowed, the prosecution still cannot prove who was driving, most likely.”
The bill does not require a minimum flashing yellow duration or any form of best-practice engineering to ensure that only intentional violators are ticketed.
Some roadway configurations are confusing, and Pennsylvania has some non-standard laws, such as for buses stopped on intersecting roads. Flashing lights are also not positioned sideways.
“Illegal passing is highly exaggerated, per NHTSA data. A school can install a stop-arm extender,” McCarey said.