HARRISBURG – Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-46) is reminding motorists of a recent state law that allows school districts to equip school buses with stop-arm cameras to detect the license plates of drivers who fail to stop for school buses.
Under legislation Bartolotta helped implement, the video evidence will be shared with local law enforcement for review before a citation is issued.
“Every day in Pennsylvania, hundreds of motorists fail to stop for school buses and put the lives of children at risk. It is estimated that each school bus is illegally passed more than two times a day,” Bartolotta said. “While the vast majority of drivers are careful, previous laws proved inadequate in getting the few reckless motorists to stop – and one violator is all it takes to cause a tragedy.”
In the past, the School Bus Passing Law has been notoriously hard to enforce, as school bus drivers have had to quickly collect pertinent detailed information about the incident, while performing their duties, or law enforcement had to catch a motorist committing a violation.
Bartolotta and Sen. Pat Browne (R-16) worked jointly on an amendment to House Bill 364 (now Act 38), which contained important new provisions intended to build upon the legislature’s previous School Bus Camera Law (Act 159 of 2018). That legislation addressed the serious safety issues created by motorists illegally passing stopped school buses when the safety lights and arm bar had been deployed.
Following a review of pilot camera programs in their legislative districts, Browne and Bartolotta crafted amendments to the statute that would strengthen the enforcement of the current law and increase the number of buses in districts across the commonwealth equipped with stop arm cameras. The new law provided a structure, utilized widely in other states, for stop arm camera companies to enter into contracts with school districts and local police to provide their services free-of-charge in exchange for part of the revenue generated by the fine. A $300 civil penalty is assessed to motorists violating the state’s School Bus Stop Arm Camera law caught by a stop arm camera. Funds from each fine are also allocated to the participating local police department, to defray costs of implementing the program, and the state’s School Bus Safety Grant Program, designed to educate motorists and bring greater public awareness to this safety issue.
Under the law, local police departments will review evidence packages created by the stop arm cameras and certify that a violation has taken place before a notice of violation is sent to the motorist. Privacy provisions are included to protect the identity of the motorist and the public.
Pennsylvania currently has 26 school districts and over 1,200 buses utilizing Bus Patrol stop arm camera technology.
“At the start of the school year, children are especially excited and distracted coming off the bus. Please keep an eye out, follow the school bus stopping law and let’s do our part as motorists to keep kids safe,” Bartolotta said.
CONTACT: Colleen Greer 717-787-1463