Pennsylvania has recently joined the list of states to implement cameras on school buses that are used to issue traffic tickets. The cameras are used to catch drivers who fail to stop when a school bus is stopped and its red lights are flashing. Drivers caught on camera can expect to receive a ticket in the mail, with fines ranging of $300. The goal of this program is to encourage drivers to pay more attention and yield the right-of-way when a bus stops, and ultimately increase safety for children getting on and off of buses in Pennsylvania.
School buses equipped with cameras to issue traffic tickets are now being used in a variety of states, including Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island. It is expected that other states will soon follow suit as the program continues to gain traction.
There are currently over 21 school districts in Pennsylvania that are utilizing the cameras on their buses to issue traffic tickets. This number is expected to increase as more and more drivers are made aware of the program, and its potential for reducing accidents due to careless drivers.
The cameras utilize a vehicle detection system that can recognize when a car has illegally passed a stopped school bus. The camera is then triggered to take a picture of the license plate and record the time, date, and location of the violation. The photo is then sent to the issuing school district for review. If the violation is verified, a citation is issued with information such as the fine amount and due date.
Buspatrol is the company that provides solutions for school bus safety. They provide camera systems, software and support services to school districts across the United States. The exact amount BusPatrol makes from these services is not publicly available information. However, it is reported that 50% of the fines in Pennsylvania will go to the company with the school district receiving $100.
The Bus-Camera bill in Pennsylvania was introduced by Senator Robert Tomlinson in 2015. His proposal was then passed by the Senate and House of Representatives, before being signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on November 21st, 2018. The legislation required all school buses in PA to be equipped with exterior cameras which would record any violations made by other drivers when stopping for school buses.
The National Motorists Association has objected to the Bus-Camera bill, citing concerns over inadequate due process and a lack of evidence when it comes to issuing penalties. They contend that the cameras are used to generate revenue and are more likely to enforce violations against drivers who have not committed any offense. The association further claims that cameras do not prevent dangerous driving around school buses, but only record violations after they have already taken place. However common knowledge that these types of systems are in place recording every move on the road, may be enough to deter motorists from committing them in the first place.
If you have received a school bus ticket or are facing penalties due to the Bus-Camera bill, there are steps you can take to try and fight it. First, thoroughly review the details of your ticket and make sure all the information is correct and valid. Then, look for any evidence that could be used to challenge the ticket, such as proof that you were not driving recklessly or that you had stopped at least 20 feet away from the school bus before passing it. Consult with our attorneys who specialize in traffic violations to discuss whether pleading guilty but asking for a reduced penalty may be beneficial in your particular situation. Points are not issued for School bus tickets, and you will not be reported to your insurer.
Read more about School bus cameras here.