schoolbus 2016SPRINGFIELD -   In Texas, school bus safety cameras captured the horrifying image of an SUV driver plowing into a student crossing the street after getting off the bus.

Thankfully, the student suffered only minor injuries, but as the video has made its rounds on the Internet, Illinois Senator Tony Munoz is reminding students and drivers of the dangers of distracted driving and that Illinois similarly empowers local schools to use school bus safety cameras.

“You watch these videos and you want to scream: STOP! These are children just trying to get to school. I hope it serves as a wakeup call to motorists everywhere. When you see school buses, slow down, pay attention,” said Munoz, the Chicago Democrat and former police officer who sponsored the legislation that allowed Illinois school districts to implement traffic safety cameras on buses in 2014.

Across the country, these cameras routinely catch motorists speeding around buses, ignoring the stop arms and nearly hitting students. Police, however, can use the videos to identify vehicles and fine motorists. The cameras are meant to both deter and protect since every school can’t have a police escort at a time when motorists seem increasingly distracted.

During a one day study in May, more than 6,000 Illinois school bus drivers reported 2,700 violations, including motorists who ignored stop arms and passed or swerved around a stopped school bus. Nationally, more than 96,500 bus drivers reported nearly 74,500 such violations during the one-day survey.

“We’ve got to do better,” said Munoz. “These are children’s lives we’re talking about.”

The cameras are linked to the stop arms and police can review footage of vehicles that unlawfully pass a school bus. Drivers who ignore the stop arm face a $150 fine for the first violation and $500 for the second violation.

In Illinois, local school officials decide whether to use the cameras. The state doesn’t track which schools or buses have cameras or how many violations have been issued.


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