BELLEVUE, Wash. – Getting our kids to and from school safely is a top priority for the Bellevue School District. During the week of October 8th, the district plans to equip 27 school buses with new exterior cameras. It’s supposed to catch drivers who are speeding or go around the stopped buses. A pilot program last year found multiple violations a day.
When drivers see a school bus stopped, with a yellow arm extended, flashing lights, and the stop paddle extended, they’re supposed to stop. But Bellevue mom Erin Moy says that doesn’t always happen.
“I’ve seen so many cars go around and they run through the middle lane. and there are so many kids on the crosswalks. I just can’t imagine if someone was hit and it would be horrible,” said Bellevue Parent Erin Moy.
The unimaginable is what the Bellevue School District is trying to avoid. With 27 of its buses soon to be equipped with these cameras including one that is toward the back of the bus that provides a wide angle.
“It picks up from a long distance away. So it’ll pick up cars coming up in front of us or cars that go,” said Bellevue School District Transportation Director Mark Hazen.
Then on the side of the bus, four main cameras will capture finer details like a license plate. If a driver doesn’t stop after the stop paddle is extended…
“As the car passes the cameras, there’s a marker that marks the video, the hard drive,” said Hazen.
That’s a $419 ticket. A hefty fine supported by Bellevue parent Nicole Holey.
“It makes me sick to think about. It happens so fast, they’re so little. Even the high school they’re coming out and their headphones are in and they’re not fully paying attention,” said Holey.
148th Street is one of three areas of concentration for the school district due to its heavy congestion and high traffic volumes. It’s right next to Microsoft’s West Campus and its lined by apartment complexes.
Only 20% of the district’s fleet of buses run in the areas or routes of concern. So only those buses will get the cameras to catch people who don’t stop.
“It’s a blinking light. The arm coming down. Other cars are stopped. I don’t see how you could miss it. Honestly,” said Moy.
“We all know the rules. And the people who don’t do it are putting our kids at risk,” said Holey.
The Bellevue School District says the same company behind the ‘red light cameras’ will install those cameras free of charge. It says the proceeds from the $419 fines will go to King County, the camera company, and any remainder will go to the district’s other student safety programs.