Cameras on school buses are now detecting the traffic violations of those who pass by them illegally, the Wall Street Journal reports. Local officials and bus drivers say that the cameras and the fines that are levied after the violations are recorded are necessary to combat a safety issue that has only been made worse by increased cellphone usage. In the 24 states that use the cameras, fines can go as high as $500. Several more state legislatures are also considering adding the cameras this year with mostly bipartisan support. In most jurisdictions, video footage of apparent violations are sent to police, who decide whether or not to issue a ticket and how severe the ticket will be.
Though the school bus cameras have been met with less resistance than speed or red light cameras, some say that the cameras will cause many tickets to be issued to responsible drivers who are confused about when a motorist must legally stop near a school bus. Bus drivers counter that they observe a very high number of near misses as a result of motorists who do not heed the law, and that the vast majority of these instances are not seen by a police officer on the street. In a one-day survey in Florida in 2019, around 10,000 bus drivers observed 12,749 illegal passes. That figure was cited during the Florida legislature's debate to add school bus cameras this year, which failed to pass. An opponent of that bill said that he disliked the fact that there was a presumption that the registered owner of a cited car was the one driving it at the time of the violation. Proponents say the addition of cameras generally leads to fewer violations and that the cameras can also be used to identify safer bus stops for children.