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Wantagh Parent Calls for Stronger Bus Safety Laws

Mandalay Elementary School Co-President Susan Walpole joins elected officials in pushing for legislation that would require ignition interlocks in all school buses.

A Wantagh PTA president joined with elected officials last week in calling for a new law to protect school children from drunk drivers.

Susan Walpole, co-president of the Mandalay Elementary School PTA, attended a press conference with State Sen. Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., R-Merrick, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, and Assemblyman David McDonough , R-North Merrick, calling for the bus safety legislation. The push for tougher bus safety laws come on the heels of a school bus driver crashing into a Syosset home with five children on board and later being charged with five counts of aggravated driving while intoxicated.

"As the mother of four children, there's nothing more important to me than their safety, “Walpole said. “When I put my children on the school bus, I have to trust that the driver is doing everything possible to keep them safe.”

The proposed legislation, which is co-sponsored by Senator Fuschillo and supported by D.A. Rice and Assemblyman McDonough, would require ignition interlocks to be used on school buses as a way to prevent drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel of a school bus. Ignition interlocks are breath test devices linked to a vehicle’s ignition system, which prevent it from starting if alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath. 

“No one should be able to get behind the wheel and drive drunk with a bus full of children,” Walpole said. “Ignition interlocks would add another level of protection to prevent that from happening. That's why I believe we need this law."

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"Requiring school buses to be equipped with ignition interlocks will provide a defense against drunk driving for children who can’t defend themselves,” said Senator Fuschillo, who is chairman of the State Senate’s Transportation Committee.

Under the legislation, all school buses manufactured after July 1, 2013 for use in New York State would be required to come equipped with an ignition interlock device. The proposed law would also give local school boards the authority to adopt a resolution to install ignition interlocks into school buses manufactured prior to July 1, 2013.

If approved, New York would be the first state in the nation to require ignition interlocks on school buses.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of our children, and this legislation will create a critical check to ensure that no bus driver endangers our kids by driving a bus drunk., “D.A. Rice said. “We know ignition interlock technology saves lives, and I'm glad to partner with Senator Fuschillo to support this important effort to keep our kids safe on the way to and from school.”

RELATED

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Cops: Driver in Syosset Bus Crash Was Drunk

rob October 22, 2012 at 01:04 PM
If it is important enough to mandate this, then why limit it to new buses only? Why not push to retrofit all buses? Kathleen Rice is quoted in this article as saying "nothing is more important than the safety of our children...". If this is truly what she believes then why not force it onto every bus?
wantagh October 22, 2012 at 07:12 PM
I Agree because it appears to me that Wantagh takes the bus from what ever bus company is the lowest bidder. So our buses will probably never have ignition interlocks or cameras or anything else except the cheapest bus which means the cheaper the bus then the cheaper the help on the bus . But Thank you Susan Warpole for your efforts.

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