Local News

School bus safety bill aims to catch drivers ignoring stopped buses

Thousands of parents depend on school buses every day to get their kids to and from school safely. But, drivers ignoring the bus’s stop signals are posing a real threat to students.

Just last week, a semi truck was caught on camera flying by a stopped school bus in Minnesota, nearly killing a student that was waiting alongside the highway.

“It’s very dangerous.  There’s times you may unload as high as 30 kids at one stop,” said Allen Sattazahn, who has been a bus driver for more than 20 years.

Unfortunately, this type of incident happens every day and now Pennsylvania lawmakers are pushing for legislation to stop drivers from passing stopped buses.

“Currently it’s the dschoolbusriver’s responsibility to record the violation, capture the license plate of the vehicle, any identifying information about the driver, the time and location of when it occurred,” said Jillian Meinke, the Director of Student Guardian.

Under the proposed bill by Representative Seth Grove, cameras would be installed on the outside of school buses to catch drivers disobeying stop signals.

“Those video files are then wirelessly transmitted to our central station processing facility, where they are reviewed; they go through multiple layers of verification and quality assurance before being sent to law enforcement for review,” said Meinke.

A bus with the Cornwall Lebanon School district is the first to test out the camera system under a new pilot study.

Since December of 2013, Meinke says they have caught more than 25 drivers illegally passing stopped buses.

Under the proposed bill, violators would be fined 250 dollars.

Representative Grove says he’d like to see the camera system implemented by next Fall.

“It puts a structure in place so that all 500 school districts would be eligible to do it in a way that’s cost neutral for them in order to obviously utilize the technology that we have today and move forward with reducing violators.” Grove said.

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1 Comment to “School bus safety bill aims to catch drivers ignoring stopped buses”

    MyTakeOnIt said:
    June 5, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    Uh, yeah. It's not going to happen by this Fall. First off, some unknowingly do it because you cannot keep your eyes 100% on the bus while you are driving a car, etc. There has to be ample warning. Some bus drivers do not adjust to give other drivers a chance to get to a safe complete stop without jamming on the brake in a panic. Yellow lights on a traffic signal are 3-5 seconds long. The other drivers must also beware of the driver behind them being able to stop. Be that as it may, there are quite a few bus stops in locations that are insanely stupid to expect drivers to be paying a high amount of attention to a bus when there are other things to consider. NEVER, EVER HAVE SCHOOL BUS STOPS AT A TRAFFIC STOPLIGHT! Bus stops need to be in safe places for the student, the bus AND also allow the traffic to be able to be able to stop safely. This is being omitted in so many areas. Bus drivers and parents should not expect that a school bus is any more exceptional than an emergency vehicle (which also has sirens). It can take a few seconds to realize that an emergency vehicle has approached you and for you to move to a safe place to stop for it. As a school bus driver for three decades, I have seen the unintentional ignorance and the intentional ignorance….and it's not all because of the drivers that fail to stop so I do not subscribe to the notion that all violations of drivers failing to stop for a school bus are the other driver's intentional fault or ignorance. I read the story where they will analyze the situation with the camera. I sure hope they do; the whole situation…the stop location, the activation of the school bus lights and the visibility because as much as I don't want school children to be in danger, I don't want innocent mistakes to destroy a driver's record.

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