SAN ANTONIO — Last week, the city council here unanimously approved an ordinance that will create a civil penalty for unlawfully passing a stopped school bus while loading and unloading students.
This ordinance will authorize local independent school districts to install cameras to capture violators.
“Children are at greatest risk when they are getting on or off the school bus,” said District 2 City Councilman Alan E. Warrick II. “Most of the children killed in bus-related crashes are pedestrians. Furthermore, one-third of the deaths occur in the 10-foot area surrounding the school bus because of passing motorists who ignore the flashing red warning lights and disregard a bus’s deployed stop-arm. I thank Councilman Lopez for his partnership and my colleagues on city council for their support.”
“Child safety is of great concern to all of us,” said District 6 City Councilman Ray Lopez. “This ordinance supports our collaboration with the school districts to help enhance driver safety awareness around school buses.”
The school districts that are currently installing the cameras are:
• Southwest Independent School District
• East Central Independent School District
• Judson Independent School District
• Northeast Independent School District
Section 54.066 of the Texas Transportation Code creates a criminal offense for passing a stopped school bus that is operating certain visual signs, including stop arms, while loading and unloading students. However, enforcement is difficult due to the large number of school buses en route to various locations during morning and afternoon commutes, according to the City of San Antonio City Council.
Since 2012, at least 16 Texas municipalities have passed civil penalty ordinances for bus stop-arm violations including Dallas, Austin, and San Marcos. This has resulted in a significant decrease in the incidents of violations. After the first year of operation in the City of Dallas, a 25% decrease in the number of violations was reported, according to the City of San Antonio City Council.