BOSTON (CBS) – Getting children to and from school is Stephen Ingle’s livelihood. His family’s business has been busing kids along the South Shore since 1954, but he says it’s becoming a more dangerous job.
“The drivers come in after their runs every day and tell me that they had a car pass them when they were dropping off or picking up a student with their lights flashing. They hate when it happens,” Ingle told WBZ-TV.
A 2011 pilot program equipped local school buses with stop arm surveillance cameras. In Medford, cameras captured violations every day for three months.
“You would think standing back that people would look at that and think, ‘My God we’re jeopardizing our children,’ ” says State Representative Paul Donato.
Donato has written legislation favoring the cameras for years with no success. He says a new bill addresses past issues like giving the driver of the car caught on camera a chance to prove whether they were behind the wheel or not. They’ve also made it optional for cities and town to participate.
“We’ve made it so that it’s a local option. This way communities that feel like this is a major problem for them, could opt in and then train a police officer to review the video and look at whatever infractions there are,” Donato told WBZ.
In the past, bus drivers would scribble down a license plate if they could even manage to get the whole thing. That information would then go to the RMV, who would reprimand drivers with warning letters or fines.
But MassDOT and the RMV told WBZ in a statement, “Due to current staffing and a heavy workload, the policy has been discontinued,” meaning no one is being cited unless a police officer directly witnesses the violation.
It’s something that puts local mom Amanda Brangifort in favor of the bill.
“It would be safer to have a camera, that way kids are being watched at all times and we can go back to it, it would just make sense,” she said.
Currently only 15 states in the country have school bus stop arm camera laws. The new bill will be up or debate during the September legislative session.
“I hope it doesn’t take a child getting hit by a car for it to pass. That would be too little too late,” says Ingle.