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.
 
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.
 
“Every morning thousands of Mount Olive parents entrust the school district with their children, expecting them to be as safe and secure as possible,” said Superintendent Robert Zywicki, Ed.D. “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 typically results in a fine of up to $300 and points on a driver’s license.
 
“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 has been collected which goes to the township and state.

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