Traffic enforcement cameras are now rolling on AISD school buses. The district Thursday kicked off a 30-day grace period before citations start going out.
Every school day, about 22,000 students in Austin ride a bus to school. For the past 10 years, Alex Dubon has driven one of those buses. During his time behind the wheel Dubon said he has seen far too many close calls involving his kids and cars.
"It’s really insane. Some people they don't really care, some pass you on the right side, they pass you on the left side, high speed, so I think this thing is going to stop that,” said Dubon.
Thursday AISD announced new video enforcement cameras are now rolling with their buses.
"Folks, today ASID has taken a huge giant step for our student safety,” said AISD Transportation Director Kris Hafezizadeh.
The cameras are connected to the stop arm and warning lights that are on all school buses. Drivers who pass a bus, when the system is deployed, will get a $300 civil citation.
"The actual footage to determine whether or not it’s an actual violation that’s occurred by an individual passing a school bus will be done by officers in my department,” said AISD Police chief Eric Mendez.
For the first 30 days only warning citations will be issued.
The rule of the road is simple: 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.
FOX 7 first reported about this idea back in 2014. The school district had launched a 6 month long program to see if it would work. The cameras captured vehicles blowing by stopped school buses. On average 60 violations a day were recorded during the pilot program. American traffic solutions won the contract and because the company installed the system at no upfront charge, it receives 60% of each violation that’s paid.
"And we've seen a tremendous success in changing driver behavior; in fact 99% of individuals who have received a violation from a school bus stop arm camera haven't received a second,” said Charles Territo with American Traffic Solutions.
The money AISD receives will be used to hire staff to process the violations. Only 30 buses currently have the cameras, but that number will increase to 300 as more are installed throughout the year.
Austin is not the first local school district using theses "Stop Arm Bus" enforcement cameras. Georgetown and San Marcos have had them for about a year. A system also went on-line Wednesday in Eanes ISD.