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Mount Olive Township School District installs school bus cameras to catch passing drivers

MOUNT OLIVE TOWNSHIP, NJ (Morris County) – The safest school district in Morris County is making area roads safer for children. Mount Olive, named the most secure district in April 2021 by news website Morris County Focus, is putting motorists on alert that illegally passing stopped school buses is a serious safety issue that has consequences, according to the school district.

All 72 vehicles in the district’s transportation fleet will be equipped with multiple security cameras specifically designed to record vehicles that pass buses which have their flashing lights activated and stop-arms extended. The cameras are expected to be installed by the end of January 2022.

“Every morning thousands of Mount Olive parents entrust the school district with their children, expecting them to be as safe and secure as possible,” Superintendent Robert Zywicki, Ed.D. said. “That’s a pact we take very seriously. I’m a parent of school-aged kids myself and I know nothing is more important.”

A pilot program run with four Mount Olive buses has resulted in the issuance of more than 120 violations since the spring of 2021.

A conviction of the violation results in a $100 fine, and up to 15 days in jail or up to 15 days community service for a first offense. For subsequent offenses, violators can receive a $250 fine or more and up to 15 days in jail. Five points are added to a driver’s record for each offense, according to a brochure produced by New Jersey and U.S. officials

“Motorists are passing stopped school buses everywhere, residential areas and side streets, not just on Route 46,” James Carifi, the district’s director of security and a former captain in the Parsippany-Troy Hills Police Department.

The bus cameras continually record. When a bus driver witnesses a violation, the driver presses a dash button that marks the event. The digital video recordings are uploaded automatically to a cloud-based server; Carifi reviews the marked footage each day. If a vehicle illegally passes a bus, the video and vehicle information including the make, model, and plate number are sent to the Mount Olive Township Municipal Court which reviews the documentation and issues a summons.

The installation of the cameras come as a direct result of the concern expressed by Mount Olive bus drivers. During meetings with Carifi to review transportation safety protocols, the drivers discussed the frequency of violations and their frustration that little could be done.

“I said ‘Hold on, maybe we can do something,’” Carifi remembers. “That’s when we began our research into camera companies and developed the process.”

Since the spring of 2021, nearly $20,000 in fines have been collected which go to the township and state.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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