SPOKANE VALLEY– Drivers who illegally pass Central Valley School District buses will be caught on camera with the help of a new safety camera pilot program.
The district is taking steps to improve student safety around school bus stops by deterring drivers who illegally pass school buses and endanger the lives of children crossing the street.
A new safety camera system is activated by the extension of the stop arm of a school bus. The system captures still images and video of vehicles that illegally fail to stop when the stop arm is extended and school children are entering or exiting the bus.
Central Valley is the first school district in the Spokane area and one of the first in the state to pilot the use of stop arm violation safety cameras. The action follows the adoption of Washington State Senate Bill 5540 in July 2011, allowing districts to install the cameras to identify and fine drivers who fail to yield to a bus with the stop arm extended. The program would be fully-funded by stop arm violators and cost-neutral to the district, which would retain the majority of the $349 average fine amount.
“We are equipping three of our most problematic school routes with the Student Guardian technology at no cost and no obligation to test until the end of the school year,” explained Jay Rowell, assistant superintendent of operations and human resources. “We want to quantify the frequency and severity of stop arm violations and evaluate the system for future implementation.”
Although information about violators will be captured during the pilot period, no citations will be issued. The district currently reports stop arm violators to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department.
Traffic violators face as much as a $349 fine.
The district will test out the system for the next month and then decide how it wants to go forward.