Legislation proposed to require cameras on school bus stop arms

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) -- Legislation has been proposed for the 2020 General Assembly that would require cameras on school bus stop arms by Aug. 1, 2023.

Rep. Robert Goforth, R-East Bernstadt, says despite the red stop sign and flashing lights that illuminate when schoolchildren get on and off the buses, some drivers ignore the signals and pass the buses, potentially endangering children’s lives.

Under his legislation, those drivers caught on the stop arm cameras passing a bus would face a $200 fine for the first offense, and a $500 for a second or greater offense within a three-year period.

“As a father, and as a legislator, I am committed to doing all I can to protect Kentucky’s children as they are transported to and from school, and I believe this is legislation whose time has come,” he said. “We’ve had some of the worst possible tragedies imaginable on Kentucky school buses both in the recent and distant past, and out of those awful occurrences, we’ve learned that we must be proactive in ensuring pupil transportation safety so that we do all in our power to protect precious lives.”

He cites a 2018 survey by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services of school bus drivers in 38 states and the District of Columbia, which found that nearly 83,944 vehicles passed 108,623 buses illegally on a single day last school year. That number increased from just over 78,000 vehicles in 2017 and over 74,000 in 2016.

In-state statistics show that illegal passing is a problem in practically every county and school district in Kentucky.

He says there are numerous stop-arm camera system suppliers, offering devices that not only capture an image of the violation but make compiling and submitting evidence easier. Some suppliers provide districts the option of leasing the equipment in exchange for collecting a percentage of the fines recovered from enforcing the violations, essentially at no up-front costs to the districts.

“This bill protects Kentucky’s children and holds reckless drivers accountable for their actions—I think it is something that all Kentuckians can get behind,” said Goforth.

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