Red Light Cameras Coming to a School Bus Near You

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Wikipedia
Stop means stop. Except in this case, you might want to keep driving.
Every kindergartener with a sense of self-preservation knows not to trust the stop signs that jut out from the sides of school buses, because even though they are the same reflective red octagons as those planted in concrete and the word "STOP" is written in the same white font, people often don't.

"We did a test two years ago," says Larry Duncan, board president for Dallas County Schools, which operates the bus system for the county's school districts. "We installed stop arm cameras on six of our buses and for 30 days we recorded. On every trip for every bus, we recorded at least one violator. Sometimes as many as 10."

If the scofflaws are caught by a police officer, they face a fine of up to $1,000, and violations are a felony on the second offense. Few people, however, are dumb enough to ignore any stop sign in plain view of a cop, so the only recourse for a elementary school student is to flip the bird and keep walking. Maybe track the car down and key it, if that's your thing.

Duncan said Dallas County Schools (which has no teachers or students but is, nonetheless, organized as a school district) is trying something more pragmatic.

The district has already begun outfitting its entire 1,650-bus fleet with cameras that automatically snap a picture of your license plate if you're the type of person who prefers mowing down children to pausing for five seconds on your way to work. A couple of weeks later, after a police officer reviews the video and determines that, yes, you did ignore the stop sign, a $300 ticket will show up in your mailbox. Or your friend's, if you put in enough forethought to borrow his car.

If the program sounds almost identical to the cameras that snap your picture when you run a red light, that's because it is, though Duncan avoids the comparison because the controversial red-light cameras carry "baggage."

The district is shelling out $7.5 million for the cameras, with additional costs for police officers to review the violations and other expenses. All of that and more will be covered by a predicted $10.8 million in revenue during the program's first year, though the Dallas City Council (and eventually the city councils of other municipalities in which DCS operates) will need to pass an ordinance imposing the $300 fine before any money can be collected.

DCS predicts that the $10.8 million figure will drop by 20 percent in each of the following two years as drivers realize they don't want to pay a $300 fine and that anyone who runs over a kid is probably going to hell.

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Maxheadroom
Maxheadroom

What jackass...uh...horse did they get bucked off from?

Nomnom
Nomnom

I'm all for saving the children, but I'm also for common sense. Whenever I rode the bus to and from school, I always waited for the bus to leave and then crossed when I knew it was safe. That is, when I could actually see it was safe instead of relying on a dinky sign hanging off a behemoth blocking my line of sight to oncoming traffic. I'd say don't let the buses block traffic and let the kids when they should cross the road, but sadly, that doesn't make anyone any money.

skycrab
skycrab

$$$$

If they really wanted a real officer to issue a real ticket, it would go to the JP courts, the home of all citations issed by other-than-municipal police. However,  that fine money would go to the JP court, the real Dallas County (no relation to DCS), and the state.

If that were true, they would come off as altruistic and honestly worried about children's safety- because there would be no bank in it for them.

Doesn't sound like thats what they are planning though.

Jared Heath
Jared Heath

Firstly, its not 5 seconds.  Its often times approaching a full minute...so you exaggerate quite a bit there.  Not that its any lesser a crime, but still, the kids aren't even off the bus in 5 seconds.

Secondly, what is the law?  Does a bus stopped on the far side of NW Hwy require me to stop 5 lanes away on the other side?  

Thirdly, their estimate of revenue is silly. Once these are in place and it gets heavily reported and the public educated, you'll see it drop by 90% in 2 months.

Lastly, if I'm paying for this with my tax money, I have to echo a comment below that it seems a bit surprising that they went off and spent 7.5 million on something they don't have an established guaranteed way to 1) enforce and 2) pay for.

Dagobert II
Dagobert II

LOL, kiss that $7.5 million good bye if this ends up being as unenforceable as the red light $cameras.

Jennifer
Jennifer

Out of total curiosity, how many deaths/injuries are attributable to people blowing the bus stop signs every year?  (I AM in favor of stopping for the kids and am also in favor of the kids flipping the bird to the a-holes who don't.)

Jared Heath
Jared Heath

How many have you heard of on the news?  Any deaths/injuries attributable to this would certainly make the news.

I suggest to you the answer on deaths is certainly no more than 2 over the past 20 years as I don't recall anybody ever saying anything about it on the news....and its probably Zero.

Injuries are a different answer, as they are more likely to go unreported....but they are also far more unlikely as any kid hit by a car in this situation is likely to be killed are seriously injuired (enough to make the news)

RTGolden
RTGolden

so they're planning on issuing 200 tickets per school day?  Ok, I can buy that part of it.  It's conceivable that at least 200 ppl will run the stop sign on school buses. 

Here are my big questions.  How many cops are they going to have to staff up to review the film?  1 per DCS bus yard?  more? less?  What is the service and maintenance contract going to cost annually?  Who is that contract being awarded to?  Does the contract company take a portion of the ticket fees, as is done with the RLC's?

I'm all for the program.  Protect the kids, Great!  But stop blowing smoke up everyone's butts about how much money it will make and how soon it will pay for itself.

Hannibal Lecter
Hannibal Lecter

If this is like other states, where the driver is responsible and must be identifiable in the picture, then go for it. 

If the is like the City of Dallas RLC camera program, where they go after the vehicle owner regardless of who was actually driving, then #*($#* 'em.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

If it saves one kids, it's worth $10mil. Who would lend this district that kind of money to do this? I'm thinking it's some lender that has to have a high rate, but wouldn't that be public knowledge? Is that contract available for review?Just seems to me like there would be more important things to get money for, but then again, teachers aren't revenue generators.

Matthew Creed
Matthew Creed

People who have never rode a bus as a means from getting to and from school will never know the real dangers of getting on and off the bus when it stops.  It was probably a 30+ minute bus ride for me so you see lots of stuff ...luckily none of them was a fellow bus rider getting mowed down.  But there were people that would disregard the flashing red lights. 

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

How exactly is that legal?

Can I just set up a tripod on the side of the road, record traffic violators, show it to some cops, and collect the money? New career!

Anon
Anon

This has nothing to do with safety. It's a money grab.

Alfredo
Alfredo

One story today on removing metal detectors from DISD schools and another story on putting red light cameras on school buses.  I'm not buying that the revenue will exceed the costs of the cameras.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Ok... just so I've got this straight, Dallas County Schools (the bizarre governmental bureaucracy needlessly interposed between school districts and bus transportation in North Texas) just spent over $7.5 million dollars on red light cameras without any understandings or agreements with any municipalities to enact ticketing ordinances that would allow them to ticket drivers and collect revenue?

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