Dallas approves crackdown on stopped school bus violators




Posted on May 22, 2012 at 6:03 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 23 at 11:48 AM

DALLAS - The Dallas City Council Wednesday approved a crack down on drivers who pass stopped school buses.

The council passed unanimously a new plan to save lives - and make some money. The chance of getting a ticket for going around a bus when the stop sign is out will go up.

Dallas County Schools, which operates the bus system for Dallas ISD and many suburban districts, will install cameras on its buses.

In a month-long study with just six camera-equipped buses, DCS found a driver illegally passed a stopped bus with its stop sign extended at least once every trip.

DCS board president Larry Duncan says violators put the safety of children at risk.

After the camera on a bus records a violator's license plate, the vehicle owner will be sent a $300 civil fine.

That revenue - almost $11 million forecast in the first year from 36,000 violations - would cover the cost of installing cameras on the 1,700 bus fleet. But it would also let DCS take over the school zone crossing guard program in Dallas, saving the city $1.7 million.

Duncan says DCS will not change the program's seven full-time staff or 136 temporary employees who serve as guards in any way.

Vehicle owners who get a ticket can appeal to the city's municipal courts, just like a red light ticket.

With the City Council approval, DCS says it will approach suburban cities it serves to also participate.

DCS' Duncan waves off possible criticism the program is "big brother" watching, saying safety for children comes first.

With Council approval, enforcement becomes effective when the new school year starts in the fall.

DCS plans a marketing and publicity campaign this summer to raise driver awareness about the coming enforcement program.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com