SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Independent School District is the latest district to adopt automated bus stop cameras that detect and record when drivers unlawfully pass school buses that have their stop arm deployed.
Beginning mid-October, the district said it will begin issuing $300 citations to people seen passing school buses.
The district website states violators will begin receiving citations after Oct. 31.
Here's what you should know about automated bus stop citations:
How does it work?
When the school bus stop arm is activated, cameras are equipped to detect vehicles passing the bus in either direction. A video of the violation is then sent to SAISD police for review. Officers look at the footage to determine if a violation occurred and give their approval before a citation is issued. Once the citation is approved by district police, a notice is sent to the owner of the vehicle captured on bus stop cameras.
What's the fine?
The fine is $300 if issued by SAISD. If you are stopped by the San Antonio Police Department for passing a stop sign, the price is much steeper at $649.
What happens if you don't pay?
SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price said the civil citation, if issued using the camera system, will not go on the violator's driving record. The city ordinance pertaining to the cameras also prohibits the company from sending the violator to collections for nonpayment and prohibits the inclusion of the violation on one's driving record.
How many people actually pay?
A 2017 review by the Defenders found that less than half of violators actually pay the fine issued by districts participating in the initiative.
Judson's cameras caught 456 violations, which resulted in 323 citations. Drivers appealed 22 violations, and only seven were upheld. A total of 308 cases resulted in a fine being leveled against the guilty driver, but only 122 drivers paid the fine. That means only 40 percent of those drivers sent the district a check.
At NEISD, 9,331 citations were issued, 959 people appealed and 516 cases were upheld. Of the 8,888 cases where fines were issued, only 4,302 people paid up, resulting in a 48 percent success rate in the collection of fines.
South San had a 43 percent success rate, while Southside took in 41 percent and Southwest got 37 percent.
What's the law?
According to a handout from SAISD, when a school bus stops and has alternating red flashing lights on, drivers traveling in all directions must stop and remain stopped until the signal is retracted. The handout advises drivers to stop at least 20 feet from the front of the bus or 20 feet from the rear of the bus.
Where does the money go?
According to the ordinance, "fines collected under this article serve the municipal public purpose of enhancing traffic safety compliance with respect to school buses." The ordinance allows districts to apply the funds to any lawful purpose that promotes safety.