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Thinking of passing that stopped school bus? Think again

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BURIEN — Bad drivers beware:  One local school district is arming their school buses with cameras to catch drivers who don’t obey the traffic laws or endanger children.

The Highline School District says handing out pamphlets and talking about the dangerous problem isn’t enough anymore so that is why they have decided to police drivers.

school busIt’s seems clear enough — but all too often kids are dodging cars as they step off a school bus.

Video captured in West Virginia shows a car missing a boy by just inches.  In Washington, a survey conducted by school bus drivers caught 1,500 driver violations in one day. Drivers just whizzing by —  not just on the left but on the right side of the bus, ignoring the stop arm.

“Wow, I’ve never seen people violate; I am surprised it’s that many people,” said parent Linda Joss.

“If you are driving you should know the law,” said parent Jennifer Clemens.

The blatant disregard has been such a problem, the Highline School District is taking the lead and fighting back, camera-style.

“The camera will be mounted right here,” said Highline Public Schools Transportation Director Scott Logan.

Logan says the cameras will be mounted low and it will be the same color as the bus.

Next month 10% of buses in the district will have extra eyes to catch bad drivers.

“It will be sent electronically to the King County Sheriff’s Office; they will have an officer review,” said Logan.

It will capture the car’s movement and license plate but not the driver. If authorities deem there is a violation, a ticket will be mailed to the registered owner.

“It’s hard because I know sometimes they make mistakes,” said Joss.

Just like red light cameras, people will have the chance to challenge if they weren’t the ones behind the wheel. But if the rules were broken, someone will be learning an expensive lesson.

“We are not trying to trap people, we are trying to get the right education to the right people and keep kids safe,” said Logan.

Even those who are a little skeptical of cameras in general say an exception should be made to protect kids.

“If I started hearing there were cameras on some of these buses, I would think it would get in people’s head — that’s a good way to stop them,” said Joss.

The Seattle School district is also considering installing the same equipment.

It couldn’t come soon enough for one of their bus drivers.

“Take care, watch for red sign and stop, make sure it is,” said bus driver Ladonna Werdal.

Werdal has good reason to worry, with up to 500 violations spotted in the Seattle School District. A violation will cost drivers $394.

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