School Bus Cameras In Pennsylvania
When a school bus stops to pick up or drop off students, drivers are required to stop. Most concerning is the growing number of drivers who do not stop for school buses, putting young children at risk. To catch drivers that ignore the law, 21 Pennsylvania school districts have external cameras installed on the school buses. Are school bus cameras going to make school bus stops safer? Let’s look at the evidence.
Do School Bus Cameras Catch Bad Drivers?
According to PennLive, from August 2022 until January 2023, external school bus cameras issued approximately 8,000 violations to drivers in Pennsylvania. Think about that: 8,000 violations in a 6-month period! This only covers the 21 school districts enrolled in the program. That is an alarming number of violations for a small portion of the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania. Imagine how many times vehicles illegally pass buses in all of the school districts in the state and you can understand our concern for student safety.
What Do The Cameras Record?
The cameras record external video when the bus is stopped at a bus stop. This video captures the license plate information of any vehicles that pass the stopped buses illegally. The data is paired with the date and time of the offense. The data is then used to find and issue citations or tickets to the owner of the vehicle.
A Growing Safety Problem
The purpose of installing cameras on school buses is to enhance student safety and deter drivers from disregarding school bus stop signs. By using the video evidence captured by the cameras, law enforcement authorities are able to enforce traffic laws more effectively and hold violators accountable.
Reducing Student Injuries
The use of cameras mounted on school buses to capture and ticket drivers who illegally pass stopped buses can help improve student safety. Here are a few reasons why:
- Deterrence: The presence of cameras on school buses acts as a deterrent to drivers who might otherwise be tempted to ignore the stop signs and pass buses illegally. The knowledge that their actions could be recorded and result in a citation can discourage drivers from engaging in such risky behavior.
- Accountability: The cameras provide concrete evidence of drivers who violate traffic laws by passing stopped school buses. This evidence can be used to hold the offenders accountable and ensure that they face appropriate consequences for their actions. This, in turn, sends a message that such violations will not be tolerated, promoting safer driving practices around school buses.
- Increased enforcement: The captured video footage enables law enforcement authorities to more effectively identify and prosecute drivers who illegally pass school buses. This strengthens the enforcement of traffic laws and helps create a safer environment for students getting on or off the bus. Districts can’t have a police officer follow every school bus to catch every scofflaw – and these drivers know it.
- Student awareness: When students know that cameras are in place to monitor and capture violations, it can enhance their awareness of the importance of bus safety. They may be more cautious when boarding or disembarking from the bus, which can reduce the risk of accidents or incidents caused by reckless driving.
While the cameras on school buses are not a foolproof solution, they can contribute to improving student safety by discouraging illegal passing, promoting accountability, and increasing enforcement efforts. But, this system isn’t without concerns.
Concerns About School Bus Cameras
I know it might sound like a no-brainer idea. Cameras outside school buses, at no cost to taxpayers, can increase student safety. Yet, after sharing this article on social media, we received one angry email.
The author of the email was more concerned about possible tickets for innocent drivers. The content of the email was so unconcerned with student safety and more concerned about hypothetical situations.
As a personal injury law firm, our first concern is real human safety. Should innocent drivers be concerned about the use of this technology?
Here is what we learned in our research:
- Drivers who obey traffic laws and do not illegally pass stopped school buses should not be concerned about the use of this technology.
- The cameras are specifically designed to capture evidence of drivers who violate traffic laws by passing stopped buses, and they are not intended to target law-abiding drivers.
- This is not an automated process. Officials review each offense before a citation is issued to the vehicle owner.
No Concerns For Law-Abiding Drivers
If drivers consistently follow traffic regulations, including stopping when a school bus extends its stop sign or flashes its lights, they should have no reason to worry about receiving citations or penalties from these cameras. The primary purpose of implementing such technology is to promote student safety and deter reckless driving behavior.
However, drivers who do engage in the illegal passing of stopped school buses should be aware that these cameras exist and that their actions may be recorded. It is important for all drivers to prioritize the safety of others and adhere to traffic laws, particularly when it comes to school bus stops.
Safer Roads For Everyone
Ultimately, the use of this technology aims to create safer road environments for students and encourage responsible driving practices. We understand how some drivers may object to the use of this kind of technology. However, safety is of utmost importance on the road. We understand school bus cameras aren’t a perfect solution, but the cameras could be one piece of the puzzle that helps keep kids safe.