by Morgan Montalvo WOAI News
Rules governing school bus camera-related traffic enforcement in San Antonio soon could be in for some fine tuning, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The city’s Public Safety Committee and local school districts are asking City Council to review the existing ordinance that deals with motorists ticketed for driving around school buses when they pull over to pick up or drop off students.
Under state and local laws, motorists must stop if a school bus is not moving and its lights are flashing, which indicate students are boarding or exiting the vehicle. Committee member and District 9 Councilman John Courage says the current city ordinance needs provisions to ensure that drivers captured on cameras and cited for violating school bus-related laws are afforded full due process, and should spell out in more detail the responsibilities of private companies that own and operate the cameras under contracts with school districts.
“People did not have any kind of appeals process if they received a ticket from the company that said they were passing a school bus illegally. There was no one to contact at the school districts that could help them work this out,” Courage tells News Radio 1200 WOAI.
School districts, Courage says, fully support increased protections for motorists cited for school bus-related violations.
Another component missing from the current ordinance, as well as in agreements between school districts and camera companies is access to data.
“What is the level of traffic violations around the school buses, around the schools, that are cited through this process? How many tickets are sent out?
What locations are key locations where there continues to be problems?” Courage asks.
Providing bus camera analytics to city and school police, Courage says, would allow officers from various jurisdictions to identify problem traffic areas and adjust enforcement accordingly. The committee wants bus camera companies to provide the information, also called “metrics,” on a quarterly basis.
If City Council takes up the issue, the Safety Committee and school districts want more transparency on the part of bus camera companies.
Currently, some local districts are reviewing their contracts with the for-profit firms. At least one company that had a contract with a local school district has gone out of business amid allegations of financial mismanagement.
Courage says school districts also want codified how their share of citation revenues would be spent.
“The money they receive from this, they want to dedicate to more school safety for students around the schools and things of that nature,” says Courage who, before his election to City Council, taught school for 27 years.
“This is something near and dear to my heart,” Courage says.
PHOTO: MORGAN MONTALVO