WilCo mom calls bill to get rid of school bus stop arm camera 'absurd'

bus arm cam.jpg

A bill that would get rid of school bus stop arm and red-light cameras is on its way to the Texas Senate floor. The Senate Transportation Committee voted to approve Senate Bill 88 Thursday 6-2 with one member absent.

The bill would get rid of the photographic traffic enforcement systems like school bus stop arm cameras and red light cameras. Currently the city of Austin and Austin ISD have both photographic systems.

The school bus cameras automatically give a driver a ticket if the camera catches them passing a stopped school bus.

“Once the camera indiscriminately clicks, the vehicle owner is assumed to be the violator,” said bill author State Senator Bob Hall, District 2 (R-Edgewood). “This turns our judicial system upside down.”

Hall laid out the bill in a committee meeting on March 8. On Thursday, the committee approved the bill.

“This is an unjust and tremendous burden on working people,” Hall said in the meeting.

“Absolutely absurd,” Williamson County mom Lea Ann Lopez said. “That is the craziest thing I have heard.”

Lopez has been fighting to get bus stop arm cameras in the Round Rock Independent School District. She says cars pass her seven-year-old daughter’s stopped bus every day.

She reached out to CBS Austin and since the original story on the issue Williamson County has increased enforcement in the area. It has also added signs to warn drivers to stop for stopped buses.

“It was just a blessing,” she said Friday.

She doesn’t get why legislators approved the bill in the committee.

“I don’t understand why it would even be a thought to get rid of something that could potentially save somebody,” Lopez said.

Several people voiced for and against the bill in the committee hearing.

A city of San Antonio representative voiced against the bill in the hearing saying their school district’s bus cameras help deter drivers. Hall then questioned her in the hearing.

“How many children have been killed as a result of automobiles passing school buses in that district?” Hall asked.

“I don’t have that information. We can certainly get that. I’m not aware of any,” the representative responded.

“What problem is it we’re solving by putting the cameras out there?” Hall asked after saying he’s heard of no children killed from schools he’s spoken with.

The bill is on the calendar to be talked about on the Senate floor on Monday, but lawmakers may not bring up the bill until Tuesday.

Lopez says she may go and fight against it.

“Anyway that I can help change something that could potentially save a child’s life, potentially change a mother’s heartbreak, a father’s heartbreak,” Lopez said.