Bus Cameras to Catch Illegal Driving

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Some Illinois lawmakers are stepping up efforts to keep students safe when getting on and off the school bus.

District 205 is piloting a camera that is on the outside of a school bus. They've had it for about eight months, and hope to catch drivers breaking the law. They say it is not unusual to have as many as 50 drivers running through these stop signs in a day.

John Bonner has been driving a school bus in District 205 for three-and-a-half years, but this particular bus is new to him. It's equipped with a camera on the outside of the bus to catch drivers who run through school bus stop signs.

"They need the license plate and the description of the car, they go by you and you can't read it, if the camera is there, it catches it and it's recorded,” Bonner says.

The district also uses this camera to see where people are running these stop signs the most. They say Lewis Lemon is one of the main problem areas, so this is where they send police officers to deter and catch violators.

Illinois lawmakers want to catch as many as they can. The senate has approved a bill to support the use of these types of cameras.

The legislation says the bus must have its stop sign out, lights flashing and it must be clear that students are getting on or off the bus. Transportation coordinator Don West says he likes the concept, but says the bill needs work.

"It's a $150 fine for your first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses, but it's not a moving violation,” says West.

A moving violation would mean a license suspension of at least three months. Bonner says he ultimately sees the cameras as a way to keep kids safe.

"They don't know anything about cars so once you put them off they think they can just go,” Bonner said.

Almost all District 205 buses have cameras that point out the front window to mainly monitor for the driver and kids, so it doesn’t usually catch license plates.

Opponents call the legislation unconstitutional because people who are ticketed can’t challenge the recorded video in court. The bill now goes to the House.

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