Among the bills being considered for the 2017 legislative session in Utah is a bill that will allow cameras to be mounted on school busses to help catch motorists who blow by the extended stop arm mounted on most school busses. According to KSL News, the safety problem of motorists ignoring the extended stop-sign arm has become epidemic. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Mike McKell of Spanish Fork expressed that his primary desire is that school kids getting on or off the bus be kept safe.
Thus started sponsorship and evolution of House Bill 235 which: “Authorizes the use of a photograph or video image obtained by an automated traffic enforcement safety device as evidence of certain traffic violations.”
Ben Horsley, spokesperson for the Granite School District, weighed in on this issue, calling the problem the “number one safety issue” in his district, saying that this happens there at least a dozen times a day. “It just takes once for that driver not to stop, a kid to step out when they’re expecting to be given the right-of-way, and a child to be killed,” he said.
As for the cameras, the technology exists to implement the program right away. Supporters of the program stress that the bill is not designed as a revenue source, but rather as a school safety program to help keep kids safe. The fines that are generated will be used to offset the cost of the program so the school districts won’t have to pick up the tab.
I agree that motorists passing school buses that have their red lights flashing or have extended a stop-sign arm is a serious safety problem. Recently, KSL published that these violations happen over 1500 times a day! Yet I worry about big brother expanding his surveillance on the citizenry. We already have the NSA that monitors our phone calls and internet usage and cities have patrol cars loaded to the gills with cameras that help track the comings and goings of its local residents. Cameras abound everywhere and video saturation will only continue. In this instance, however, I would endorse using cameras on school busses provided that the public was advised of it. Maybe the best place would be on back of the bus, where approaching motorist are told that a school bus-stop sign violation will likely be recorded. This will help motorists who are thinking of breaking the law to think twice – and maybe save a life.