Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Traffic Cameras On School Buses Okay'd by WA Senate

OLYMPIA -- School buses may soon be equipped with cameras to photograph cars that illegally pass a bus when it is stopped to let students on and off.

The state Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a bill allowing use of the cameras, which transmit a picture of a vehicle's license plate to law enforcement to send a ticket to the car's registered owner.

Violations would be treated like a parking infraction but carry a hefty fine of up to $394 -- double the fine for infractions in a school zone.

The bill now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her consideration.

Under Substitute Senate Bill 5540, a school district may install automated safety cameras on any or all buses in its fleet only after a public vote by its school board. That is to ensure residents can weigh in beforehand.

The cameras are basically the same ones used by cities to catch speeders and those running red lights. Use on school buses stirred up far less political heat than anti-red-light camera measures in Mukilteo, Monroe and other cities.

The Senate initially voted 49-0 to back the legislation then watched the House make some changes before approving it 93-3. On Tuesday, the Senate voted 45-1 to agree with the revisions.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623;