Bus camera plan to catch passing drivers gets Senate panel OK

Posted April 1, 2015

— Legislation that would allow school districts to use bus-mounted cameras to catch and fine drivers who pass stopped school buses easily cleared a Senate committee Wednesday morning.

Under Senate Bill 298, school districts could place cameras on the sides of buses to photograph the license plate of any vehicle that passes a bus when its stop-arm is extended. Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, said the program is voluntary, and an outside vendor would pick up the cost of the equipment and issuing the fines in exchange for a cut of the revenue.

Violators face a civil penalty of $500, but McInnis said prosecutors could use the photo evidence to pursue criminal charges as well.

"Some little child will pay the supreme sacrifice of walking out in front of that car," McInnis said, citing a report that found more than 3,100 vehicles passing stopped school buses across North Carolina on a single day in March 2014.

"We've got to draw a line in the sand," he said, adding the civil fine wouldn't be "a sneak attack" because the buses would have signs notifying other drivers of the cameras.

Sen. Angela Bryant, D-Nash, asked if the state is moving away from education and enforcement efforts to stop drivers from passing school buses toward a money-making opportunity, but Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, said the fine needs to be weighed against the cost of burying a child hit by a car at a bus stop.

The Wake County Public School System has side-mounted cameras on 16 buses but has had difficulty criminally prosecuting offenders, said Sen. John Alexander, R-Wake. Officials in the school district's transportation department "are just tickled to death" with the idea of being able to levy civil fines against them, he said.

The measure would assess the fine on the owner of the vehicle unless the owner could prove that someone else was driving at the time. Sen. Ron Rabin, R-Harnett, noted the bill doesn't include any provision for fining anybody other than a vehicle owner.

"Somebody ought to be paying the penalty," Rabin said, suggesting that the language be changed to clarify how to pursue payment if the vehicle owner wasn't behind the wheel.

After passing the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee on a voice vote, the bill goes to the Senate Judiciary II Committee.


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  • Terry Watts Apr 3, 2015
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    Listen to the RWers sacrifice your children at Mammon's Altar...

  • Kim Schrock Apr 2, 2015
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    I agree with Walker. I do like the cameras however. It will show how these bus drivers are flying through traffic.

  • James Walker Apr 2, 2015
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    In any recent ten year period there are 32 to 36 school age pedestrians killed by passing cars, nationwide, less than one per state per ten years. In those same ten year periods, there are 89 to 113 school age pedestrians killed by the SCHOOL BUSES.

    IF safety were the goal, which it is NOT for these systems, the focus would be on stopping the school bus drivers from killing the child pedestrians, because they kill more than twice and sometimes three times as many of the children as do passing cars.

    In an average state, if the cameras optimistically cut the fatalities in half, an average state will save one child every 28 years. It is ludicrous.

    This is multi million dollar scam for money, not safety, addressing an extremely rare and tiny set of fatalities in order to collect hundreds of millions of dollars.

    James C. Walker, Life Member - National Motorists Association

  • Stephen Donaldson Apr 2, 2015
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    it is very easy I prove that the bus scameras are really about money. Just require:

    1. No per ticket fees. Flat fee with no cost neutral either.
    2. School district is prohibited from receiving any cash from this.
    3. Officer NOT camera vendor decides who deserve a "ticket"

    That alone means many districts who are really using this to churn tickets would be exposed.

    There have been episode of scamera vendors playing loose and citing on divided roads in one case in rhode island. Also cases of empty buses on side of road with churning too.

  • Stephen Donaldson Apr 2, 2015
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    Bus scameras really are not about safety . The argument that this is about "protecting" children is a false one.

    Even NHTSA docs show this:

    "According to another NHTSA report, of the 1,351 people who died in school-bus related accidents between 2002 and 2011, only 123 were school-age pedestrians—the group that school bus cameras allegedly protect. However, the presence of a camera bolted onto the side of a bus would have done little, if anything, to prevent these tragedies. Why?

    Because most school children killed in school-bus related accidents over the last 10 years were killed by the bus, not by a passing motorist.

    - See more at: http://blog.motorists.org/reboot-school-bus-cameras-dont/#.dpuf

    So how many deaths occurred in NC????

    And of those what were the reason??

    Do you think a school bus scamera will stop a impared driver on drugs? Someone driving illegally? What wa the underlying causes???? This needs to be published!

    Ban the cams on facebook

  • Peter Panda Apr 1, 2015
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    "the civil fine wouldn't be "a sneak attack" because the buses would have signs notifying other drivers of the cameras."

    You shouldn't even need signs that a bus has a camera....it's a law that the driver has to stop, period.

  • Peter Panda Apr 1, 2015
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    Better off spending resources to prevent drivers from passing stopped buses than worrying about catching them after the fact.

  • Charlie Jaxon Apr 1, 2015
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    Some Franklin County buses already have the cameras. 2 years ago, He had to cross the road to catch the bus. I would go stand in the road with a Maglight flashlight & a bright yellow shirt and make cars stop for the bus driver. Drivers out here refuse to see that big blinking lights on that bus! Some people may say I am stupid for doing that but before they hit my son, They were going to hit me. I got 5 plate numbers that year. Now he doesn't have to cross the road.

  • Ginger Lynn Apr 1, 2015
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    Will they go after them??
    Go to the courthouse any day and see how many people charged with No Operator's License, drive themselves there, pay the fine or get it dismissed, then Drive Home!
    Just words on paper if not enforced.

  • Bernadette Dan Unger Apr 1, 2015
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    Increase the punishments by 100% and then find a judge that will enforce them. Sad thing is that there are no punishments until a kids is killed, even then, not much. Bet we would all be surprised at the number of suspended drivers on the roads every day.