School bus

A new state law may make it easier to catch drivers who neglect school bus stop signs.

The law allows school districts to voluntarily install automated camera systems on school buses. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is revising its School Bus Specifications Manual to include the new law.

A public meeting on the revisions will be held at 2 p.m., Oct. 7, 2011, in the OSPI building in Olympia.

Substitute Senate Bill 5540, passed by the 2011 Legislature, allows the use of cameras on school buses to identify vehicles illegally passing school buses when students are entering or leaving those buses. The law restricts the camera system to only take pictures of the vehicle and vehicle license plate and not of the driver or any passengers.

The camera systems must be approved by a majority vote of school board members before they can be installed.

Fines from tickets generated through the cameras are identical to fines given by police officers (currently $394). The revenue generated from the automated tickets may be used to offset the cost of the purchase of the camera system and for administrative costs. Any funds remaining are returned to the school district to be used for school zone safety projects.

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