AUSTIN (KXAN) — Even after video surfaced last month of two AISD students getting hit by vehicles after they got off their school bus, KXAN found this is still a big problem in Austin. Drivers are continuing to ignore school bus laws in the city.
The school bus stop arms were down when both of the students were hit by cars. The students are okay, but many fear this will happen again. State troopers are trying to raise awareness to keep students safe during National School Bus Safety Week.
In Texas, it is illegal to pass any school bus that is stopped with a visual sign, either flashing red lights or a stop sign. Police officers review the stop arm camera footage and send out tickets in the mail. More than 1,700 drivers were cited in a recent 30 day period between Aug. 22 and Sept. 22. Each ticket cost $300. The company that administers the bus camera program, American Traffic Solutions, will keep 60 percent of the revenue, AISD gets the rest.
AISD installed stop arm cameras earlier this year. During the first week of school, AISD police said their stop arm cameras caught between 900 and 1,000 violators. After the first week of the school year the number of tickets went down each week. During the entire school year last year, a total of 6,600 citations were issued.
One of the drivers who hit a student in September was a 16-year-old who recently got her license. She told a witness at the scene she did not know drivers are required to stop for school buses coming from the opposite direction when they are loading and unloading children. The 12-year-old hit walked away with bumps and bruises. The 17-year-old was taken to the hospital by ambulance to get checked out.
Some Texas trooper will give up their patrol cars this week to ride school buses looking for offenders. The troopers will be watching for drivers who violate the law, which could lead to fines of up to $1,250. There will also be troopers following school buses all week to watch for people who don’t stop.