More King County school districts look to school bus stop arm camera... with $419 fine

SEATTLE -- More King County school districts will add safety stop arm cameras on the sides of school buses, the King County Sheriff's Office said.

Bellevue School District plans to add 27 safety stop arm cameras by Christmas, King County Sgt. Ryan Abbott said.

Seattle Public Schools already has about 120 cameras installed, roughly one-third of the fleet of 370 school buses. Highline Public Schools has 10 cameras.

School safety stop arm cameras are high-resolution cameras installed on the sides of schools buses that turn on when a bus extends its stop arm. If a car illegally passes a bus as the arm is extended, the camera snaps a photo.

Photos are reviewed by the King County Sheriff's Office, and tickets are issued if the law was broken.

The ticket is $419 for failure to stop for a school bus.

It's a hefty fine. But the alternative is unthinkable, Abbott said.

"We take these very seriously," Abbott said. "It's about keeping the kids safe. That's all it's about."

Abbott said the program has been a success since it was tested with Seattle Public Schools in 2016. In the 2017 school year, cameras on SPS school buses led to more than 8,000 tickets, Abbott said.

Abbott reminds drivers you must stop if you are traveling in the same direction as a school bus. And on a two-lane road, traffic in both directions needs to stop.

To learn more about the program, visit the Seattle Public Schools website.