GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCN/WNCT) — Passing a stopped school bus can cost lives and soon it could cost the driver.
Gov. Roy Cooper will sign a bill into law Tuesday that is intended to help cut down the number of times people pass a school bus.
Once the “School Bus Cameras and Civil Penalties Bill,” or Senate Bill 55, is signed into law, drivers could be fined hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
While it’s already state law for drivers to stop in both directions when a school bus is stopped, local governments and school districts will be given the option to install additional cameras on school buses. The system will work much like red light cameras.
When the stop arm of a school bus comes out and flashing lights turn on, so will the camera.
Breaking the current law is a misdemeanor, but if a driver strikes a person while driving past a stopped bus with its stop arm out and lights flashing, it’s considered a felony in North Carolina. Civil penalties will be added on top of the charge, whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony.
The fines collected from the driver will directly benefit the county in which the crime was committed.
That money will go directly back into safety equipment for that county’s buses.
“They’re hurrying to get where they’re going and they’re taking chances and sooner or later a kid’s going to get killed,” said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison. “We can’t be everywhere and every amount of tools we get to help us enforce the law and keep people safe, that’s what we’re looking for.”
Every day during the school year, 3,100 cars pass stopped school buses in North Carolina.
Since 1999, there have been 13 kids killed due to drivers failing to stop.
Once signed, it will be in effect for the upcoming school year.
Cooper will sign the bill into law today at 2:30 p.m. in Greenville.