A bill that passed the Alabama Senate and is on to the House would allow county and city school districts across the state to use video cameras to document illegal passers of school buses and issue citations.
The Mobile County Public School Systems began its own stop-arm enforcement program in January, authorized by a law passed last June only applicable to the local area. Now, state Sen. Jimmy Holley’s SB215 carries with it a $300 fine statewide for any motorist that video proves is guilty of illegally passing a stopped school bus.
SB215 allows local school boards to approve the use of “any camera or recording device that uses a vehicle sensor and camera synchronized to record by photograph or video the rear of a motor vehicle approaching or overtaking a school bus that is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children in violation of Section 32-5A-154, Code of Alabama 1975.”
School boards can also elect to operate the program without the involvement of local law enforcement and instead through a “trained technician,” defined as a sworn law enforcement officer or person who has received instruction and training in the proper use of the automated photographic enforcement system to be used by the school board.
The bill also allows school boards to enter into agreements with contractors on the installation, operation, notice processing, administration and maintenance of school bus automated devices. In this case, school boards must already have entered into an inter-local agreement with local law enforcement to review violations.
Violations verified by local law enforcement would result in a citation being mailed no later than 14 days after the review takes place. The vehicle owner is liable unless he or she can prove that another person was operating the vehicle or can otherwise prove a violation did not take place.
Any revenue from citations would be split 40-40 between the county or city and the school system, with the remaining 20 percent split between the Alabama State Department of Education for school bus safety initiatives and the Alabama Department of Public Safety for highway safety enforcement.