School Buses to Add Cameras to Catch and Fine People Who Pass When Bus Is Stopped
Drivers will be fined hundreds of dollars for passing stopped school buses
North Carolina lawmakers have passed a bill that will impose steep fines on drivers who pass stopped school buses, an illegal offense.
Under Senate Bill 55, counties will be able to install and use cameras on school buses to record drivers who disregard the vehicles' stop arms. The first offense will result in a $400 fine, the second in a $750 fine, and $1,000 for the third.
Drivers will be able to appeal the ticket in court.
The bill, which passed the Senate months ago, was passed on Thursday night. Opponents argued that drivers' rights could be infringed by the measure because of the differences between the civil penalty process and the process that happens when a law enforcement officer pulls a driver over for passing a stopped bus.
"If the evidence is not sufficient enough to support prosecution, you put it through this other way that is calling for a lesser standard," said Representative John Faircloth. "This is a dangerous situation, I think."
The bill's supporters claimed that more enforcement will improve safety for children boarding and getting off of school buses.
"When you have video evidence, there's no need to confront your accuser," said Representative Darren Jackson. "You can see it on video. These things have the potential to save children's lives. You can appeal it if you really want to."
Although the bill "encourages" criminal prosecution of drivers in situations when the cameras "provide evidence sufficient to support [it]," the civil penalty would be classified as non-criminal and would not affect driver's license points.
The bill is now headed to the governor's desk for approval.