AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills signed into law on Monday a bill that allows the use of stop-arm and exterior cameras to catch motorists who illegally pass school buses.
The new law, based on bill LD 166, permits a “state or a municipality” to mount cameras on school buses to record evidence of violations and use that recording to enforce penalties against the violator. The photo or recorded image is considered confidential, the bill states, and can only be sent to a law enforcement officer, prosecutor, defendant, or court for investigation into or prosecution of a violation of the law. The law also states that the state or municipality cannot retain photos or recordings from the cameras for more than 30 days.
The new law also maintains a $250 minimum fine for a first-time stop-arm violation, as well as a mandatory 30-day suspension of the offender’s driver's license for a second offense that occurs within three years of the first offense.
Adam Mayo, transportation director for Maine School Administrative District 75 and president-elect of the Maine Association for Pupil Transportation, told SBF that the law “opens the door” for school districts to use extended stop arms legally.
“This gives school districts another tool to combat the running of the red lights, and makes them more visual,” Mayo added.
Mayo also pointed out that the law enables school bus drivers to ensure the safety of their bus and students without having to worry about capturing the vehicle’s make and model, and exact license plate number, as well as a description of the owner for law enforcement.
“It takes a little weight off the driver,” he said.
As SBF previously reported, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt also just signed a bill into law allowing exterior cameras to be installed on school buses as a way to catch stop-arm runners and charge them a fine. Meanwhile, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a similar bill in May. In addition, lawmakers in a handful of other states, including California, Florida, and Delaware, are considering bills that would allow stop-arm cameras.