HB 235 – Automated Traffic Enforcement Safety Devices, which is sponsored by Representative Mike McKell (Republican – Spanish Fork), authorizes the use of automated traffic enforcement safety devices on school buses to help capture photographic or video images of possible traffic law violations. Under the bill, 20 percent of the fines collected would be given to the school district or private school that owns or contracts for the operation of the bus to help offset the cost of a camera.
McKell said a number of drivers ignore the stop sign and keep driving, endangering children as they both board and depart the bus. It’s difficult for bus drivers to keep a record of the license plate numbers, so having a camera would solve the issue. The program would be optional for schools to participate in. HB 235 was inspired by Spanish Fork resident Reed Heywood, 16, who recently got his driver’s license and noticed how many people don’t stop for the bus when they are supposed to.
Representative Kay Christofferson (Republican – Provo) expressed doubts about the effectiveness of installing cameras. “I’m struggling with this because I’m thinking I don’t know how effective this will be and there’s some management that’s it’s going to take to do this. I recognize the importance of enforcement and watching, but I don’t know that this will actually accomplish that because I can’t see how this will change what’s already going on other than as a funding source for other buses. So I don’t know that it will improve the safety because you’re not doing that now with the resources you have,” said Christofferson.
Representative Lynn Hemingway (Democrat – Millcreek) related how he has observed many traffic violations at the school bus stop that is in front of his home of 34 years. “I’ve watched some crazy stuff go on out on my street. I really do commend you for bringing this forward. There are times when I would’ve liked to been able to get in my car and go catch the people who were doing what they did, but I couldn’t because the school bus was parked there,” said Hemingway. “Thank you for following the law when you felt inclined to go chase,” replied McKell.
Jackie de Gaston, a local attorney, is concerned about possible invasions of privacy and worries it may be a slippery slope. “When I first heard about it, I started thinking Nazi Germany. Where do we stop with all of this? I think education is what we ought to do first,” said de Gaston.
In the end, the committee voted 9-2 to advance the bill to the full House for its consideration.