Embroiled in controversy regarding its stop-arm video enforcement program, Dallas County School released videos this week that illustrate the problem of motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses.
A spokesman said the “Hall of Shame” videos depict just a few of the approximately 400 illegal passing incidents that occur each day. He added that the videos aim to both educate the public on school bus safety during National School Bus Safety Week and demonstrate that the county’s enforcement program works.
“We all know how impactful video is in telling a story,” said DCS Board President Larry Duncan. “We have external and internal cameras on all of our buses and it has prevented a lot of incidents, and is also quite useful in proving when any bad behavior has occurred. The camera doesn’t lie.”
During National School Bus Safety Week, which wraps up on Friday, Department of Public Safety troopers in many areas are riding on or following school buses to catch motorists who break the law. Troopers are patrolling areas where school buses pick up and drop off students, looking for motorists who illegally pass. Drivers who violate the law could be fined as $1,250. A stop-arm citation is $300.
DCS works with third-party provider Force Multiplier to review the video and pass it along to police for issuing the citations. DCS said its stop-arm cameras have reduced violations by 35 percent. But the program is not without detractors. Recently, a group of local motorists filed a class-action lawsuit against DCS claiming that the program is unfair. The suit states that the program conflicts with Texas Transportation Code.
"We cannot speak to the specifics of the lawsuit; however, we have opinions from five cities upholding the legality of our ordinance,” Duncan added. “Dallas County Schools' highest priority is student safety. We will continue to seek ways to stop drivers from violating the law when it comes to stop arms and keeping children safe when buses are loading or unloading. This is about more than politics. It’s about student safety and making sure we do everything we can to keep our students safe."
State legislators led by Sen. Don Huffines are at odds with DCS over actively consulting with other school districts on setting up their own stop-arm video enforcement programs. Huffines has even called for DCS, a county-wide educational services center that provides transportation for 14 independent school districts, to be abolished altogether.
Huffines took to Facebook this month to lambast DCS as “a danger to students and a menace to taxpayers.” He also posted on Twitter, since deleted, that the county agency was illegally peddling its stop-arm video program throughout the state to other districts.
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