There is a new bill that has been introduced (SB 5540) that would give school districts (who always need money) the authorization to place cameras on school buses that would ticket vehicles that do not follow the law regarding school buses.
Summary of Bill: An automated school bus safety camera is affixed to a school bus for the purposes of recording one or more sequenced photographs of the rear of a vehicle that drives past school buses when the stop paddle and flashing lights are deployed. School districts are authorized to install school safety cameras with the following requirements:
- infractions are processed like parking tickets;
- cameras can only take photographs of the back of a vehicle and those photographs may only be used to enforce this infraction;
- infractions must be mailed to the vehicle owner within 14 days; and
- any compensation paid to the vendor of the equipment may not be based upon infractions or revenue generated.
Before entering into a contract, a school district is required to follow the competitive bid process to ensure the most beneficial contract to the school district.
Any revenue collected from the infractions, less the cost to operate the program, must be used for school zone safety projects.
If a driver does not pay an infraction resulting from a school bus safety camera, the driver cannot renew his or her license until it has been paid.
The only difference (we have found) between this proposed bill and current law regarding red light & speed cameras is that if you don’t pay school bus tickets you won’t be able to renew your license until you do.
School Bus ticket cameras are a solution in search of a problem.
According to Alan Jones the director of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (in the video below) out of 20,000,000,000 kids loading and unloading buses there are 8-10 deaths per year, nationwide! That’s a 1 in 2,000,000,000 chance that a child will be killed. Your chances of being killed by an insect bite (1 in 30,589,556) are higher than that!
Is improved safety really the goal? Cameras cannot stop a person from breaking the law, they can simply take a picture of the car. If the safety of the kids is truly a concern there are plenty of things that can be done to improve safety. We quickly thought of a few:
- Crossing “arm” that blocks traffic (similar to a rail road crossing)
- Public awareness ad campaign to make drivers aware of the law (since the proponents claim this is most of the problem)
Neither one of those will bring in money for the schools, but they will increase safety.
You can contact the members of the Senate Transportation Committee here: https://www.leg.wa.gov/Senate/Committees/TRAN/Pages/MembersStaff.aspx
Here is video from the hearings that they had on this bill yesterday: