STOP, means stop for a school bus or you will be fined. That’s the promise Monday from Dallas County Schools.
Beginning Oct. 1, police are slapping drivers with a $300 citation when they don’t stop for a school bus with its flashing lights on. Police will be catching drivers with the help of cameras which have been installed on school buses.
Dallas County Schools installed 875 cameras at the beginning of the school year. So far, leaders say they’ve caught hundreds of drivers on camera blowing by the activated stop arm and putting kids in danger.
To date, violators have gotten off with a warning. Those warnings end today.
Dallas County Schools Police Chief Scott Peters insists it’s drivers disregard for the law and students safety that’s driving the district to spend $10.4 million to outfit buses with high-tech cameras.
“Last year in Forney, there was a student killed exiting the bus because someone went around it,” said Peters.
“Absolutely, it’s worth it. Nothing is more important that the safety of our kids,” said Dallas County Schools Board President Larry Duncan.
The bus driver activates the lights and stop arm as students get on and off the bus. The camera records the violation from several angles when a car passes the stopped bus.
The cameras show the front and back of a passing vehicle, which is used to capture the license plate information. Then, an officer reviews the recording.
For a blatant violation, drivers will be ticketed $300. The chief said there have been plenty of violations during the test period and that cameras on every bus busted at least one violator.
“One bus stopping, there’s 21 violations just for that one bus on this particular day,” the chief explains as he reviews the camera’s video.
Not everyone will get a ticket, an officer will use his or her discretion. So far, the district has found around 9 out of 10 recorded violators really did break the law.
“You’re going to get hit with a real $300 fine. Hopefully that will get your attention. When a school bus stops, you stop,” said Duncan.
The district will use the money from citations to buy more cameras, enforcement equipment, help pay for crossing guards, and other student safety programs.