Illegally passing a school bus is one of the most dangerous maneuvers drivers can make in Virginia. It also carries a heavy fine. In Virginia Beach, school authorities are countering the problem by fitting video cameras to buses.
The school district recently equipped about 100 Virginia Beach school buses with cameras to keep drivers from illegally passing the buses when they are picking up or dropping off students.
Passing a school bus with its flashing lights on and its stop arm up is illegal under Virginia law.
State code says the driver of a vehicle approaching a school bus from any direction must abide by the rules. The bus may be on a public highway, a private road, or a school driveway.
The only exception to the rule is when a vehicle is separated from the school bus by a solid barrier such as a median.
A driver approaching a loading or unloading school bus must stop and remain stopped until the students are clear of the road and the bus has retracted its stop arm. Drivers who violate the rule face a civil penalty of $250.
Virginia Beach school district officials hope that the cameras will make drivers think twice before passing a school bus. A district transportation official told WAVY:
“Once the red lights are activated and the stop arm is extended, the sensors in the camera are activated and it captures pictures of the approaching vehicles as it approaches the bus.”
The cameras detect vehicles passing a school bus from any direction. The cameras capture license plates along with the vehicle’s GPS location. Virginia Beach police then review the footage and decide if a driver should be fined $250.
We welcome this additional level of protection. In late 2018, a spate of fatal accidents put school bus safety in the limelight and illustrated how drivers routinely ignore this important rule.
In November, a 7-year-old boy was found dead at a bus stop in Pennsylvania after he was struck by a car, according to police.
In Indiana, three children were killed in a crash when the driver of a pickup plowed into four students boarding a school bus, state police said.
In October 2018, boys aged 11 and 13 were hit in Kentucky. The boys were injured by a car as they crossed a busy road to a bus stop.
Drivers who passed school buses have injured students in Virginia Beach. Students have also suffered injured on buses.
The cameras are not the only piece of new technology that the City of Virginia Beach has introduced to its school buses this year.
Virginia Beach Launches New Bus Tracking App
Virginia Beach City Public Schools launched an app this week that allows parents to track where their child’s school bus is.
Here Comes the Bus was launched on February 4. The app enables students and their parents to see where their school bus is in real time using their smartphones.
David Pace, Executive Director of Transportation, for the school district said:
“We have 630 buses on the road each day transporting 45,000 students across 3,400 routes in the city. While we are almost always on time, this app will provide our riders, as well as their parents, real-time tracking information – something which can be particularly helpful during inclement weather.”
We welcome any moves to make buses safer and to protect students. Bus stops are dangerous places, particularly when mornings and nights are dark. If you or your child has been hurt in an accident, please contact our Virginia bus accident lawyers today at (757) 231-6443.