The last days of freedom are quickly counting down as the beginning of school gets closer and closer. As most children prepare to take their first steps on the bus to school, worries about stop-arm violations are in the minds of the transportation staff and police.
This is one reason why Duncan Public Schools, thanks to the bond passed by voters, updated their fleet of buses, not only for transportation safety but also included cameras when the stop sign is deployed to catch those who go around.
However, until House Bill 1926, the video evidence that was turned over to law enforcement couldn’t be used to pursue charges as it was a civil offense. Now, the bill which was signed into law goes into effect Nov. 1, 2019, and will be a criminal offense.
Bill author Representative Dell Kerbs of district 26 (Shawnee) said he wanted to give law enforcement “the teeth” to charge these people .
“Currently, the law will not allow law enforcement to use the cameras as the (sole evidence) — you can use cameras in criminal situations like somebody robbing your house and they can get a positive ID, but we can’t currently use that on the school buses,” he said.
A self-sustainable fund has also been added to help school districts across the state get the stop-arm cameras.
“The beautiful part about that bill — we’ve added an additional fee of $150 of which $75 dollars of that goes into a newly created fund for the State Department of Education that schools can submit for that like grant money to update old buses or add those cameras to their buses,” Kerbs said. “Since Duncan already has that on some of their buses, that percentage of money will go to the state and Duncan may help Rush Springs or somebody else. All the school districts are going to be helping each other and at the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to help the 700,000 kids in the state be safer.”
LeeAnn Millian, transportation director, has previously told The Banner the rules when drivers must stop.
The big rule, which is one that is broken every day, is when a bus has the stop sign extended, both sides of traffic must stop, unless a median is dividing the street. When there is a median present, only the side with the bus — no matter how many lanes — must stop, according to Millian.
“The most common one I see is when you are at a four-way stop sign,” she said. “Traffic is stopped at all angles. A lot of vehicles and motorist feel like as long as they’re not turning or passing down the side of the stop arm, then it is ok to pass in front of the bus or turn and continue on. That is not the case. Everyone at the intersection is supposed to come to a compete stop until the red lights are off.”