Would Cameras Deter Bus Stop-Arm Violations?

CC image Wikipedia.orgWhen people began running red lights, city officials installed red light cameras to catch suspects and issue tickets without being on scene.  Could a similar system soon be in place to prevent bus-arm violations in Minnesota?

While such measures have yet to be seriously considered in the state, bus cameras are becoming more popular across the country in hopes of keeping school children safe as they enter and exit a school bus.

Some bus camera recordings have made their way onto the Internet, and they highlight the dangers some kids face when drivers fail to stop.

In the above video, three cars speed by a stopped bus with its stop-arm engaged.  A child is seen waving at some classmates while crossing in front of the stopped bus when the third car narrowly avoids hitting the kid.  Thankfully the child was unharmed in the video, but incidents like this happen all across the county on a daily basis.

One county in Georgia decided to equip their school buses with cameras, and in just over four months of monitoring traffic Cobb County had issued 412 tickets for failing to stop for a bus.  Not only are they catching perpetrators, but the cameras also act as a deterrent.

“I’ve noticed [people] are stopping more than they have in the past. I think now the word is out, so they know they had better stop,” said Brenda Turner, a bus driver in Cobb County.

Unlike the video above, the cameras in Cobb County aren’t recording during the entirety of the trip.  The cameras, which are located in the front and back of the bus, automatically turn on when the driver activates the flashing stop sign that signals the bus is coming to a stop.

“Once the stop arm is out, this camera is activated,” said Cobb Police Lieutenant Hawk Hagebak.

Stop-Arm Penalties

Although the state doesn’t have cameras on buses, stop-arm violations in Minnesota can be an expensive ticket for someone who intentionally or unintentionally passes a stopped bus.

According to Minnesota Statute 169.444:

When a school bus is stopped on a street or highway, and is displaying an extended stop-signal arm and flashing red lights, the driver of a vehicle approaching the bus shall stop the vehicle at least 20 feet away from the bus. The vehicle driver shall not allow the vehicle to move until the school bus stop-signal arm is retracted and the red lights are no longer flashing.

In addition, subdivision 1a of MS 169.444 reads “no person may pass or attempt to pass a school bus in a motor vehicle on the right-hand, passenger-door side of the bus when the school bus is displaying the pre-warning flashing amber signals”.

A stop-arm violation in Minnesota is punishable by a minimum fine of $300.  Any subsequent violations could result in increased fines, possible jail time, or both.

Related source: 11Alive.com

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Avery Appelman is a criminal defense lawyer and the founder of Appelman Law Firm. While his practice is primarily recognized for its work with DWI and related offenses, he has 16 years of experience working with clients on drug, assault, theft, traffic, criminal sexual conduct, and prostitution charges.

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