The Yorkville School District Board of Education has approved placing cameras on the stop arms of a number of school buses to catch motorists who pass the buses or otherwise put students’ safety at risk.
The board approved the program at its Monday, Nov. 26, meeting to place cameras on the stop arm cameras of 10 buses run by Septran, the district's busing contractor.
"Septran Transportation will install them at no cost to the district," district spokesperson Kristine Liptrot said. "They will be used on the buses that travel on the routes most at high-risk for stop arm violations. The cameras will capture pictures of the car license plates that illegally pass the buses when the stop arm is extended. These photos will then be given to law enforcement for prosecution."
Dr. Tim Shimp, district superintendent, said the issue will be brought back to the board on a monthly basis to discuss installation and implementation, tracking the violations and whether the local authorities would be able to keep up with the number of violations.
According to a memo distributed to the board by district administration, there have been "a number of incidents in our district where vehicles have passed school buses illegally while the school buses had their stop arms extended."
"We've received more feedback this year than ever before," Shimp said. "We had some last year, but it seems it's much more widespread than ever before. I don't know if that's just based upon it's more prevalent in the media, but I also think our citizens are more aware and paying more attention, and are willing to come forward to share. From parents who are dropping kids off and watching them get on the bus at the bus stop to local people just driving through and seeing things that are happening ... it's a community effort to increase safety, partnering with our local authorities, the school district and our parents."
The district will pay the $324.90 cost of each camera, Shimp said, while Septran will pay for installation. The cameras would be compatible with the system used to monitor the existing three interior cameras on the Septran buses, officials said.
The district has 120 buses in the Septran fleet, district officials said. The total estimated cost to purchase and install the stop arm cameras on 120 buses is $44,488, officials said. The district would be reimbursed around $36,000 in the fiscal 2019 annual transportation claim if the entire fleet is approved, according to officials.
According to the Illinois Vehicle Code, motorists must stop their vehicle "before meeting or overtaking, from either direction, any school bus stopped on a highway, roadway, private road, parking lot, school property, or at any other location, including, without limitation, a location that is not a highway or roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging pupils."
Those who violate that law for the first time can have their driver's license suspended for three months. If that motorist violates the school bus law again within five years of their first violation, they face a one-year suspended license, according to state statutes.
The violators also are subject to a fine - $150 for the first violation and $500 for a second or subsequent violation.