Proponents of safe student transportation have won another victory in cracking down on reckless drivers after Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed legislation to permit cameras on Mobile County school buses.
The School Bus Safety Bill, which passed this month, only impacts the Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS), the largest school district in the Cotton State with over 60,000 students attending 90 schools. Since Mobile district school buses travel through multiple municipal jurisdictions and unincorporated areas, the law had to be ratified at the state level to coordinate the various agencies involved.
Pat Mitchell, MCPSS transportation coordinator, said he believes the new law will serve as an example for other Alabama school districts to follow. The approval of camera installation on buses has been a “long time coming,” said Mitchell. It took nearly two years for the bill to be signed.
Mitchell added that the School Bus Safety Bill will be a tremendous help for the Mobile schools. “We hope it will make the public aware of poor driving habits,” he said.
Motorists who illegally pass buses with stop-arms deployed and their red lights activated has been an ongoing and dangerous problem, according to Mitchell. The new law gives MCPSS the opportunity to outfit buses with cameras that capture vehicle tags.
The footage is then shared with local law enforcement for review and citations are issued.
Initial rollout will start small in January, but Mitchell is confident that all 750 buses in the MCPSS fleet will eventually be equipped with cameras. “This measure adds another safety tool to our toolbox to ensure our students are safe,” said Mitchell.