SMPD: Prepare to be ticketed for passing stopped school buses


by JADE MINGUS / KVUE News and Photojournalist CHRIS SHADROCK

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Posted on February 17, 2014 at 8:36 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 17 at 2:35 PM

SAN MARCOS -- If you pass a stopped school bus loading or unloading children in San Marcos, you could face a $300 ticket thanks to a new bus camera system.

Starting Monday drivers caught passing stopped buses will receive a ticket from the San Marcos Police Department. Technicians at an operations center in Dallas monitor the cameras in real time.

When they catch a violator, they send the information to San Marcos police. If they agree that the law was broken, a citation is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle.

All 82 San Marcos school buses have external cameras which record video when drivers pass as lights are flashing and the automatic stop arm is deployed.

"I don’t think any driver would want to live the rest of their lives thinking they injured or killed a child just because they were in a hurry," said San Marcos CISD Transportation Director Carter Hutson.

Hutson says many drivers don't know it's illegal to pass a stopped school bus in opposing lanes of traffic on multi-lane highways. The only time it's allowed is if there's a permanent barrier.

A pilot program has caught 2,360 violations since the beginning of the school year. Drivers only received warnings at that time, but now they will get tickets.

Bus Guard provides the camera systems at no cost to the district, but $225 of each $300 ticket goes back to the company.

The remaining 25 percent is split between the school district and the City of San Marcos.