HomeSafetyStudent Instrumental in Oregon Bill Targeting Illegal School Bus Passers

Student Instrumental in Oregon Bill Targeting Illegal School Bus Passers

A high school student is the catalyst for legislation making its way through the Oregon legislature that is targeting motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses.

Sean Sype, a junior at Wilsonville High School located south of Portland, wrote to the House Education Committee earlier this month recounting an incident that he observed on Oct. 15, 2021. He noted “an aggressive driver speed past the bus stop arm while one of my peers was exiting the bus.”

“If that student had been crossing the road, he would have possibly been killed,” Sype continues in his letter. “It is important that drivers who ignore the law are held accountable. Allowing stop-arm cameras automates the accountability process so that the bus drivers can stay focused on the students and their on-board safety.”

House Bill 4147 passed the House last week and referred to the Senate for a public hearing. The Senate education committee scheduled a possible work session on Thursday.

The bill would allow school districts, and other qualified educational providers across the state, to install stop-arm cameras for the purpose of recording instances of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses. A warning sign would need to be posted on each school bus to alert the public of the stop-arm recording.

Education providers would also be authorized to enter into contracts and applicable bargaining agreements with third-party companies to install, operate and maintain the stop-arm cameras.

The bill would continue to allow school bus drivers to report violations to local law enforcement within 72 hours of the alleged incident occurring. The report must include the date and time of the alleged infraction, the street location, the direction the bus and alleged offending vehicle , weather conditions including visibility, license plate number and state of issuance, vehicle description, and any other identifying information about the vehicle or the driver.

The Oregon Pupil Transportation Association supports HB 4147. Maggie Estes, OPTA president and transportation director for Lebanon Community School District, commented that the legislation is “a big one” for supporting safe student transportation statewide.

“This has been an ongoing issue and concern for years. It seems to be getting worse,” she told School Transportation News. “Drivers are not paying attention or not caring. It’s very unfortunate and extremely scary on a daily basis for a lot of drivers that have it happen to them numerous times a day. Our cargo is precious.”

Last year, Oregon reported 1,424 motorists who illegally passed stopped school buses during a one-day count for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation (NASDPTS) 11rh annual survey. But not quite 25 percent of the state’s school bus drivers participated in the count.

The citation for illegally passing an Oregon school bus when observed by law enforcement is a $312 fine and four points on the motorist’s driver’s license. When a citation results from a school bus driver personally reporting an incident, the offending motorist can also receive a $312 fine but get no points on their license.

“I can’t speak for other cities. but in Lebanon, we do send a report to our city police and I understand they send out a letter to the motorist with information about the law and what the ticket cost would be,” Estes said.

Meanwhile, motorists who illegally turn right in front of a stopped school bus also receive a $312 fine and three points on their driver’s license.

Related: Walorski ‘END’ Act Would Build on Efforts to Curb Illegal Passing
Related: Florida Allows School Bus Illegal Passing Video Enforcement
Related: (Recorded Webinar) Caught on Camera: How Stop-Arm Programs Prevent Illegal Passing

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