Public Safety Committee Seeks Improved School Bus Camera Traffic Ordinance

posted by Morgan Montalvo - 

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

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