The Illinois Department of Transportation last week reminded student transporters of a new law that expands the definition of automated video surveillance and enforcement systems installed on school buses that record motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses.
As previously reported, Public Act 97-556, which goes into effect in January, allows municipalities and counties to authorize school districts to enter into contracts with vendors to install and operate automated traffic law enforcement systems on school buses to increase the safety of students at bus stops. The law also provides that proceeds of fines will be divided equally between the school district and the municipality or county that administers the enforcement system.
First-time violations carry a civil penalty of $150, and subsequent violations are punishable by fines of $500. But the offense is not a moving violation recorded on the driver's history. However, failure to pay the fine or unsuccessfully contesting the violation can result in suspension of the driver's license.
School buses equiped with the stop-arm camera systems must post signs stating that an automated traffic law enforcement system is being used.
The Department of Transportation also stressed that students should be taught to avoid the danger zones around school buses as well as be particularly careful when crossing the street to and from bus stops.
"Most importantly, school bus drivers must remember that school bus safety begins with them," advised John Webber, interim director of the Department of Transportation. "A momentary lapse in concentration coul result in tragedy."