Transportation officials at Clark County School District in Las Vegas are hoping that cameras installed on two yellow buses to capture motorists illegally passing school buses will provide enough evidence on the number of violators to prompt legislators to amend the current state law.
Presently, Nevada’s law doesn’t allow “photographic, video or digital equipment for gathering evidence” to issue traffic tickets to motorists who don't obey the stop arm sign when a school bus is dropping off or picking up students at bus stops. The only exception is when the equipment is used by a law enforcement officer, such as a radar gun to catch speeding drivers. And, the law also only allows law enforcement officers to issue tickets.
But Frank Giordano, director of transportation at Clark County Schools, wants to push for a bill that would amend the current law to allow for stop-arm cameras to issue tickets. The intent of the pilot program, which began the first day of school, Aug. 26, is to gather footage and statistics of illegal passings to state his case. The bill to amend the current law would be introduced when the legislature reconvenes in 2015.
Under the present law, school bus drivers who witness illegal passers can report the violation and submit the report to the school district, and the district sends the report to the state department of motor vehicles. Then, the department sends a warning letter to the registered owner of the vehicle. But whether or not this process has been effective in lowering the number of repeated violators in the state is unknown.
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Diana Hollander, program officer of pupil transportation for the Nevada Department of Education, said the pilot program is a start to shedding light on illegal school bus passings in the state.
“I think it’s a great idea, and we need to do something about this,” she said. “This is a huge problem and we’re not doing everything we can.”
Whether or not the state legislature ends up amending the current law, she said she would like to see this issue addressed at the federal level, where a campaign program similar to the NHTSA's national "Click It Or Ticket" seat belt enforcement campaign, which includes a two-week crackdown period, can be marketed across the country.
“We need to do a public service announcement at the federal level to ticket these drivers. We need someone to ticket the drivers right then,” she explained.
Clark County SD is the sixth largest school district in the United States. It has 1,380 buses in its fleet and makes 18,000 stops every day. According to the 2013 NASDPTS Stop-Arm Violation Survey, released Aug. 13, school bus drivers in Nevada reported 2,597 illegal passers in a single day in May. That’s three times the national average. Click here for more information on this year's results.
Editor's Note: See our upcoming October issue for in-depth coverage on this year’s NASDPTS Stop-Arm Violation Survey and how stop-arm enforcement programs are working in various states.