SEATTLE -- School districts across King County are promoting child safety during National School Bus Safety Week, October 21-25.
More drivers in King County are being held accountable for running school bus stop signs, as Issaquah School District is the latest to add stop paddle cameras to buses. The cameras record violators ignoring signs and are reviewed by the King County Sheriff’s Office.
Issaquah joined Highline Public Schools, Seattle Public Schools and Bellevue School District in using stop paddle cameras on their buses. All the districts contract with the King County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to crack down on violations.
Bellevue School District installed cameras on 30 of its buses in January.
“It’s a big issue that we need to get under control and get the message out there and say, 'Hey, don’t pass the stop paddle when it’s out because you might hit somebody,'” said Don Dixon, the district’s transportation manager. “Our goal is for the stop paddle violations to be zero. But so far, we haven’t seen that.”
The 30 buses were equipped with cameras that record video, take pictures of a license plate and detect speed.
“Even though we have these cameras, it isn’t a guarantee that a person will stop, as people have seen. So, our bus drivers are very vigilant in making sure that our children are safe,” said Dixon.
Sgt. Ryan Abbott said there is a team at the King County Sheriff’s Office focused on stop paddle violations. He said as of Oct. 21, Bellevue School District saw 1,530 violations, and 1,474 of them resulted in a citation - a $419 ticket.
“If it takes money to get people to pay attention to things, then I think that’s a good thing,” said Greg Doland, a parent in Bellevue. “Child safety, of course, is number one and then we all want to make sure our kids are safe. When you see a stop sign, you’re supposed to stop.”
Dixon said, fortunately, no one has been hit, so far, but it still doesn’t excuse people from ignoring the sign and the law.
Doland said the risk of a child getting hit by a driver should be reason enough for more people to slow down.
“Life doesn’t have to be so fast. It’s easy to just take your time. We as human beings put undue pressure on how fast on how life should be, but it doesn’t need to be that fast,” said Doland.
Abbott said Seattle Public Schools started using stop paddle cameras in 2018. He said there have nearly 4,700 violations.