UPDATED: MAY 23, 2013
An Upstate senator has proposed legislation that would allow for cameras to be installed on school buses to capture the license tag numbers of drivers who blow past stopped school buses.
The cameras would take an image of the driver's tag, and that information would be turned over to law enforcement which would be able to send the violator a civil citation in the mail.
First-time offenders would be charged $100, second-time offenders $200, and a third time offense would cost someone $1,000.
The violation wouldn't be criminal, and it wouldn't be sent to the DMV or the driver's insurance company.
Where the revenue would go remains up for debate, though the S.C. Department of Education wondered aloud Thursday if the funds should be used to help fund the purchase of new school buses.
Since the state owns the fleet of buses, an education department spokesman said his department wouldn't foot the bill. Rather, it would be left up to individual school districts to purchase the cameras which can cost several thousand dollars.
POSTED: APRIL 22, 2013
A grassroots effort is gaining ground that would equip school buses with external surveillance cameras as a way to deter — and ticket — drivers who blow past stopped school buses.
David Poag is a route supervisor for Anderson School District 5, and recently he launched a web site for his group known as the SAVE Campaign, short for Stop Arm Violation Education & Enforcement.
Poag's group, if successful, would persuade state lawmakers to draft legislation that would make it legal for school buses to have external cameras to capture the license plate numbers of drivers who disregard school bus stop arms.
The system would resemble the “red light” camera model where drivers who run red lights are sent a citation through the mail.
In the case of stop arm violators, the cameras would record the driver's license plate, and the vehicle's registered owner would be mailed a $250 civil penalty (no points off your license).
“We're not talking about making money for the state. We're talking about keeping our kids safe at the bus stop.” Poag said during his first interview on the topic.
Poag said he's spoken with S.C. Sen. Thomas Alexander who Poag says has expressed interest in helping to draft legislation that would target violators.
The red light cameras have been questioned by courts, and in one South Carolina town, a judge ruled they could no longer be used, but Poag says his idea is different.
“You know, it didn't work with the red light cameras,” Poag said, “but we weren't talking about innocent children getting run over at a bus stop when we were talking red light cameras.”
Poag says data provided by the state's department of education show that stop arm violators have killed 14 South Carolina children and injured 26 more in the past 40 years.
Other states, like Georgia, have implemented similar ideas. In Georgia, violators are ticketed $300 for their first violation. North Carolina law allows cameras to watch for stop arm violators, but they can be used only if an accident occurs as part of the investigation. Florida lawmakers have introduced legislation, but nothing has been passed yet.