One of the newest laws in Oklahoma is one that we should all support. The bill allows law enforcers to use cameras on school buses to track down drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses.
A law forbidding drivers to pass school buses that have their stop arm extended and lights flashing has been in effect for years. But there are those who believe that because they're in a hurry, they're late to work or the law doesn't apply to them, they can drive as they please and ignore the safety of children.
House Bill 1926, by Rep. Dell Kerbs (R-Shawnee) and Sen. Ron Sharp (R-Shawnee) requires a minimum ticket of $100 for drivers who break this law, which went into effect Nov. 1.
"Drivers passing stopped school buses endanger the lives of children loading onto or unloading the bus," said Kerbs, a former school bus driver. "This is a very serious problem, but unfortunately it's difficult for our officers to enforce this law. I'm glad school districts across the state will now have the means to install video cameras and hold these reckless drivers accountable."
Adding cameras to all school buses will be expensive. But lawmakers have included a plan to help with that - it requires 75% of the fees from those tickets for this violation be deposited into the Cameras for School Bus Stops Revolving Fund, a grant that schools without video surveillance on buses can apply for to be able to purchase the equipment. The remaining 25% goes to law enforcement.
According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, nearly 84,000 drivers ignore a bus' stop arm every day.
The life of a child is priceless. We hope that the cameras are not needed, but all school buses should have them, and the law should be enforced.
Muskogee Phoenix Editorial Board