A San Antonio City Council committee today will consider whether the city should create a new category of traffic violation, to allow tickets to be mailed to drivers who are photographed passing stopped school buses by cameras mounted to the side of the bus, 1200 WOAI news has learned.
Driving around a parked school bus is currently a serious traffic violation, but the only way a driver can get a ticket is if a police officer personally sees the violation take place.
The proposal involves contracting with a Dallas based firm called BG Services, which would mount cameras on the sides of school buses at its expense. The cameras would work similar to red light cameras, and would automatically snap a photograph of the license plate of a car that passes the bus with the red 'stop sign' arm is extended.
Supporters of the law say it is already illegal to drive around the school bus, and this law would simply make it easier to catch and punish offenders.
Tickets would be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle that is photographed passing the school bus. The city and the school district would split 25% of that revenue, and 75% of the revenue from the $300 ticket would go to BG Services.
The ticket, like a ticket produced by a red light camera, would be a 'civil violation,' which means that law enforcement could not arrest you for not paying the ticket, and the citations would not appear on the offender's driving record.
But the City Attorney's office already has concerns about the proposal. The office says there are 'serious questions about the legality' of what is being proposed. The City Attorney is suggesting obtaining an opinion from the Texas Attorney General's office before moving forward.
The San Antonio Police Department has always moved cautiously on issues like this, and has gone on record as not supporting the concept of red light cameras.
Officials say there have been no fatalities or injuries to children caused by vehicles passing a school bus while it was loading or unloading passengers over the last three years.