School Bus Stop-Arm Camera Laws: Safety Takes a Front Seat as Kids Head Back to Class
Children are returning to in-person learning and legislatures across Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio are working to keep them safe while they travel between home and school. Following a tragic October 2018 accident where a motorist struck and killed three siblings after failing to stop for a waiting school bus, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that dozens of states “enact legislation to permit stop-arm cameras on school buses.” These cameras are designed to automatically take still images or video of persons illegally passing buses or disobeying safety signals when children are getting on or off their school buses.
KENTUCKY: In January 2021, the Kentucky House of Representatives proposed a school bus-safety bill. In March, House Bill 189 was passed by the Kentucky Senate and codified into law. The bill authorizes school districts to require the installation of these camera systems on school buses. The bill also includes increased penalties for motorists who disobey the school bus safety signals.
INDIANA: The Indiana Senate passed Senate Bill 69, which significantly increased penalties for drivers who disobey school bus stop-arms and stop signals. Unfortunately, the Indiana House did not pass the bill.
OHIO: Also in January 2021, the “School Bus Safety Act” (Senate Bill 23) was introduced in the Ohio Senate, calling for heightened penalties for motorists who disobey school bus signals, and authorizing districts to install stop-arm cameras on buses. The bill is currently being debated in Senate committee.
The bottom line is that school districts and private bus companies providing transportation services for schools and children must stay informed regarding new legislative efforts to increase student safety. Insurers have not indicated whether they will offer discounts on insurance premiums to school districts that voluntarily outfit their bus fleets with costly traffic cameras.
Further, private bus companies who provide services to schools may eventually be compelled to outfit their buses with camera systems to comply with new district-specific safety requirements. Regardless, motorists must always exercise caution to keep children safe.