Safety bill encourages cameras on Indiana school buses

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — A bill cracking down on motorists who zoom past stopped school buses is in the hands of the Indiana House of Representatives. 

The Senate last month passed the bill 49-0 to create tougher penalties for offenders and pave the way for on-board cameras. 

Inside Indiana’s fourth-largest school district, school bus safety taken seriously. 

“For us, it’s imperative,” said Zach McKinney, director of transportation for Hamilton Southeastern Schools

The district that serves Fishers and parts of eastern Noblesville has got more than 300 buses moving more than 19,000 children daily. 

“All of our buses are equipped with interior cameras to ensure the safety of our students while they’re on board the bus,” McKinney said. “But, now we’re looking toward that exterior.” 

McKinney said they’re testing exterior cameras on a school bus. They cost around $1,800 and will record the license plates of motorists zooming past a stopped school bus. The goal, he said, is to put them or something similar to them on all the district’s buses. That would get a bit easier if the school bus safety bill becomes law. 

The bill would give school districts statewide help in paying for school bus cameras from violation fines collected from people found guilty of passing stopped school buses. 

“Really, what we’re trying to do is capture an image that we can take to prosecution, give to our local authorities, which we work hand in hand with,” McKinney said. “Currently, our process just supplies them with a plate number, then they try to track down the owner-operator of that vehicle.” 

“With money coming back from the state, if that’s a possibility, I think a lot of districts throughout the state would welcome that, just to increase the safety around the school bus,” McKinney said. 

In a statement about the bill, State Sen. Randy Head, a Republican from Logansport, said Monday:

“The camera portion of Senate Bill 2 is important because the images of offending drivers will provide law enforcement with the evidence it needs to pursue violators. Without the cameras, more people will pass stopped busses, endanger children, and get away with it.  Three children were killed in my district crossing a state highway to get on the school bus, and we want to track down offenders and hold them accountable so that this tragedy won’t be visited upon any other family.”

RELATED: 3 children hit by vehicle, killed at bus stop near Rochester

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