A number of school districts, including LISD, are experiencing undesirable situations where drivers are failing to stop for school buses dropping off students. Last year, a 10-year old Lake Travis student was struck, which led school districts to unite to have cameras installed on the exterior of buses and to team up with law enforcement to issue $300 fines by mail to the registered owners of vehicles that pass after a bus displays its stop signals.

In a 90-day pilot program, Leander ISD, Round Rock ISD, Lake Travis ISD, and San Marcos ISD tested the cameras. When such a program is put in place, videos and photos from the cameras will record the violation and identify license plates. The photos will then be mailed to the vehicle’s registered owner along with the $300 ticket. During the course of this pilot program, Leander documented 66 violations, Round Rock, 45 violations, San Marcos, 77 violations, and Lake Travis 91 violations.

A $300 civil penalty is a fraction of what offenders would pay if caught by an on-scene officer. By state law, when an officer personally observes drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus, tickets can be issued for as much as $1250. Texas law also states that drivers approaching from either direction must stop when a school bus is displaying visual signals Drivers should not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or no longer displays signals.  A driver going the opposite direction does not have to stop for a school bus if it is on a highway with roadways separated by an intervening space or physical barrier.

Districts are now contracting with resources who make such goods and services available. They are not required to go through a competitive bidding process—bidding is not required because districts do not pay for the program. However, state law does require districts to go through a bidding process if the amount of goods or services exceeds $50,000. When districts do move forward with the program, public service announcements will be released before tickets are issued by mail.

Lets protect our children and obey the law. Let’s all come to a stop when school buses display lights or stop signals.

“Stopping for School Buses” is a synopsis of an article written by Melissa Taboada and recently published in the Austin American Statesman. Confirmation of state law was courtesy of the Texas Department of Public Safety.