Joanne Ciccotelli of Dennis Township is not interested in being in the spotlight. She’s not a fan of being on stage or thrilled by performing in front of crowds. However, when she gets fired up about an important topic to her, such as bus safety, she’s more than willing to step out of her comfort zone and do what she feels needs doing. Since this is School Bus Safety Week, she wants to make some noise about a very specific topic.
This past June, Ciccotelli, a longtime Dennis Township School District bus driver, spoke at a press conference in Trenton on behalf of Assembly Bill A-3798. This bill would require cameras on school buses to record video of drivers illegally passing stopped school buses and Ciccotelli is in favor of getting it or a similar bill passed as soon as possible.
“I told everyone in Trenton about my experiences as a bus driver seeing cars zoom past my bus when I’m dropping off or picking up students. It’s bad enough seeing people blow through stop signs or drive dangerously on the road normally, but when you’re flying by a bus with flashing lights, you’re putting kids’ lives in danger and I can’t accept that,” states Ciccotelli.
The bill would require school buses to have a camera system on board that would capture identifying information about cars that illegally pass school buses, including the color, year, make and model of a car as well as the license plate. According to Ciccotelli, at present bus drivers have to write down not only the identifying characteristics of the car, but of the driver as well, which is difficult to capture, especially when you’re focusing on the safety of the students.
“I don’t understand how we can have technology where you get automatically ticketed if you don’t pay your toll on the Parkway, or if you run a red light in some cities, but we can’t do something to ensure that people who put our kids in danger are caught and prosecuted,” Ciccotelli laments.
She hopes that more parents and concerned community members will put pressure on New Jersey lawmakers to pass such a bill as soon as possible. “This is a no-brainer. We’re talking about the most precious cargo you can imagine, our children, our next generation, so why are we waiting on getting this done? We have the technology, we just need the political push to make it happen,” explains Ciccotelli. “Parents and anyone concerned about the safety of our children should call their local assemblyman and state senator and ask them to get on board right away.”