The warning is out: video enforcement fines will be issued starting next week -- in order to stop a dangerous habit in Austin. Special cameras are now on school buses -- to catch stop arm violators.
Video of a school bus stop on Jollyville Rd, recorded by Matt Whitmire, is an example of the dangerous behavior officials are trying to change. The bus driver even tried honking his horn to get cars to obey the law and stop. It’s a scene Amy George -says she witnessed when her kids took the bus to school -- and continues to see.
"No excuse … in this day and age, how can somebody do that, knowing they can be stopped, knowing they can be watched. It’s so inconsiderate for children,” said George.
Staff members with AISD police have spent the past several days training on new camera equipment designed to catch violators. The system is activated when the school bus stop arm is deployed.
The warning period started January 8th. In the 17 school days of enforcement, the cameras have recorded 306 violations. That’s an average of 18 violations a day. Currently 75 buses have cameras. Eventually as many as 300 will have cameras rolling.
The rule of the road is pretty clear cut. You cannot pass a stopped bus on a 2 lane road or a road with a center turn lane. But on a divided highway, with a barrier or grass median, vehicles traveling in the opposite direction can pass; but caution is urged.
"As we start to gather data from these stop arm cameras, we start to determine what our hot spots are, we'll start putting officers out there to watch those bus stops and areas where we get constant violations,” said AISD Police Chief Eric Mendez.
The fine is more expensive if you are caught by a police officer. It’s $500.