UniteGPS – Exterior school bus cameras could soon become an option for Florida districts following Sen. Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills) filing Senate Bill 702 (SB702) in response to the frequency of illegal passes. 

The bill could come into effect on July 1 if both chambers approve and the governor signs in Tallahassee. 

The “Photographic enforcement of school bus safety” bill passed with flying colors at the Jan. 18 session, eventually succeeding in the Florida Judiciary Committee on Jan. 31 in Tallahassee with 9 yeas and 1 nay. Sources predict that the bill will come into effect on July 1 if both chambers approve and the governor signs. 

Behind this legislation are 2019 statistics from a Florida Department of Education survey in which 10,136 public school drivers reported that 12,700 vehicles passed them on a single day while stopped, despite the signal arm being extended.

According to Sen. Keith Perry (Gainesville R) who presented the bill to Senate Transportation Committee, illegal passing is a “pervasive” problem.

“I think we’ve all either seen videos or we’ve read news reports of people just driving around buses,” said Perry, mentioning tragic accidents in the past from his community. “Anything that we can do to help protect our children, we need to.”

Exterior school bus cameras in Florida

To counteract this trend, the bill will be non-binding, allowing school districts to implement this additional security measure to monitor motorists if they see fit.

Florida’s current School Bus Stop Law mandates drivers moving in either direction on a two-way street or highway to stop for the entire duration of the student pickup or dropoff from the vehicle, according to the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida. In other words, until children have clearly left the roadway and the signal arm returns to place. 

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Equipped with this new technology, the external cameras will document a vehicle’s license plate numbers to create citations listing the date, time, location of alleged violations, in addition to an actual image of the car involved taken from the device.

If a driver were to receive a violation for passing a stopped school bus, according to SB 702, they would either have to pay the fine between $100 to $400 or try to contest the penalty in court within 30 days.