Motorists in Austin, Texas, be warned: Illegally pass a stopped school bus and a $300 ticket could soon be in the mail.
A new stop-arm violation enforcement program began Thursday with the installation of video cameras on the sides of Austin Independent School District buses to monitor traffic for those who break the law. Under current Texas law, unless the roadway is separated by a physical median, motorists are supposed to come to a complete stop when a school bus stops, activates its amber lights and deploys its stop arm.
At this point, the video cameras from American Traffic Solutions begin recording footage by focusing on the license plate of any vehicle that passes the bus. Video of violations and images of the license plates are reviewed and verified by AISD school police before a citation is issued.
The fine for illegally passing a stopped school bus is $300, and offenders will begin receiving violation notices on Feb. 8 following the conclusion of a 30-day period of warnings being issued.
The program is part of AISD’s safety priority when transporting 22,000 students each day. It resulted after a 2014 pilot study used video cameras to record an average of 60 violations a day.
“Too many drivers choose to ignore the school bus stop arm and think it is acceptable to pass when children are unloading and loading,” said AISD Director of Transportation Kris Hafezizadeh. “With this program, we hope to significantly reduce the number of these types of violations, which will increase the overall safety of our students.”
The most recent Texas state survey of illegal passers conducted last year for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services indicates that more than 7,600 vehicles illegally pass stopped school buses in a single day.