Summer is over, and kids are back in school. School buses pick up and drop off children, with flashing red lights and an extended stop sign on the left. Unfortunately, not everyone stops for school buses, as required by law. Across the U.S. some school districts are mounting cameras on school buses that capture driver video evidence as to whether or not nearby motorists stop for the bus.
Cameras mounted on the side record automatically when the side arm extends. Video evidence is reviewed daily by school police.
At least 15 states (not including Arizona) allow cameras to be placed on school buses to record motorists illegally passing. Austin, Texas added cameras to buses last January and what they saw was shocking.
Over the course of four months, they issued citations to 6,600 drivers. In Texas, the fine is $300. Last year, $2 million in penalties were generated, with the revenue split between the school district and the camera company.
Arizona drivers are required to come to a complete stop when a school bus has it’s flashing red lights on, and the stop sign on the left side of the bus extended. The law applies to drivers coming from either direction, except in the case of a divided highway with a curbed median.
For Arizona drivers, a first violation can draw a $250 fine; anyone convicted of three offenses within 36 months loses their license for at least six months.
Despite those penalties, drivers sometimes ignore the signs and children get injured or killed.
Nationally, over the past 40 years, more than 400 children have been killed by motorists driving past a stopped school bus, according to the Institute for Transportation Research and Education at North Carolina State University.
Some may argue that this is just another way to make money through driver penalties. Many people are opposed to the use of photo radar in general. Tucson voted to remove red-light intersection cameras last year.
Others may say that there is no cost too high for keeping our kids safe.
Regardless, it’s critical to stop and remain stopped, as Arizona law requires, whenever you see a school bus stopped with red lights flashing.
Somebody important is getting off that bus.