Florida schools adding cameras to school buses to stop illegal passing

Cars illegally pass stopped school buses across Florida.
Cars illegally pass stopped school buses across Florida.(Santa Rosa County Schools)
Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 7:01 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV/Gray Florida Capital Bureau) - Drivers are reminded they need to stop for school buses as kids across Florida go back to school over the next couple of weeks.

Florida school bus drivers reported 11,224 drivers illegally passed their stopped buses in one day last spring.

Starting this school year, those who break the law could be mailed a hefty ticket under new state law.

“We are fed up. We need people to slow down and be cautious,” Leon County schools transportation director Fredrick Johnson said.

Johnson has worked in the transportation department for more than 30 years. He knows firsthand the importance of people needing to stop for the school bus.

“My son even got hit by a car many years ago,” Johnson said. “It was frightening because again, I didn’t know what to expect. The person left the scene of the crime.”

Johnson’s son broke his finger in the crash and the driver got away with it.

Now that could change as schools across Florida install cameras to catch video and pictures of license plates under a new law.

Santa Rosa County schools in the panhandle was one of three districts in the state that piloted the technology.

“Seeing what’s happening. Seeing kids waiting to cross the road as cars pass with that stop arm was a real eye-opener,” Santa Rosa County School District Director of Purchasing and Contract Administration Travis Fulton said.

Schools are now allowed to install these cameras on buses and turn the video over to the police to issue a ticket. Under the law, the registered owner is assumed to be driving.

“We’re not trying to get the ‘we gotcha!’ We’re trying to make sure that we’re making it safer for our kids,” Fulton said.

Leon County has had cameras on the outside of its buses for surveillance for years. Now they are adding more to get the stop arm violations.

“Having these cameras I’m very sure without a doubt is going to help reduce these violations because people will receive these tickets in the mail,” Johnson said.

The tickets issued by the cameras will cost drivers $225. However, if a police officer stops someone for illegally passing a stopped school bus, the ticket still costs $265 and adds four points to their license.

The money will be split between the school and the state to improve transportation safety.

School buses aren’t the only place cameras could be enforcing traffic laws for student safety. This new law also allows speed cameras to be installed in school zones.