From time to time, calls have come in to the Tahlequah Daily Press from rattled parents whose children were almost run down by a driver careening around a stopped school bus. More often than not, the startled bus driver and the young potential victims were too stunned to get a tag number.
They won't have to now, thanks to a bill signed back in April by Gov. Kevin Stitt. And in about a month, patrons may be able to see the effect of this legislation.
House Bill 1926 was authored by Rep. Dell Kerbs and Sen. Ron Sharp, both Shawnee Republicans. It calls for a ticket of at least $100 for drivers who illegally go around stopped buses. Furthermore, 75 percent of the funds collected will be earmarked for the Cameras for School Bus Stops Revolving Fund. And that's exactly how such careless drivers can be caught - through the use of video cameras. Schools can apply for grants to help ensure all buses in the district carry the requisite equipment.
Many people may not realize that, before this law was introduced, an offender could only be handed warnings unless an officer witnessed the infraction. Since the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services says 84,000 drivers blow past "stop arms" on buses each day, the law may be critical.
The measure passed solidly, 30-14. It's likely some dissenters saw it as government overreach, or perhaps a law that could be unfairly applied. There is also the justified concern about undue surveillance, which is becoming a growing problem for privacy advocates.
But in this case, if the fear of a hefty fine saves the life of a child, it's worth the effort.