School bus-related citations on the rise in Austin ISD

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The number of citations written for motorist violations related to school buses rose 33.3 percent in Austin ISD from 2016 to 2017, the district reported yesterday in a press release.

Although few drivers repeat the offense, the overall number of citations has increased, leading experts to believe many motorists simply do not understand the laws.

“There is a low rate of recidivism, where 98 percent of those ticketed do not reoffend, indicating a lesson learned,” AISD Executive Director of Transportation Kris Hafezizadeh said. “Drivers need to be very aware of children walking to and from schools and bus stops.”

Since the district launched its bus stop-arm camera program in February 2016, it said the number of related violations committed by vehicles registered in Austin has decreased by 12 percent. Each school bus is armed with a camera on its exterior that can detect if a vehicle passes the stopped bus within the enforced zone, an act which is illegal. If approved by the district’s law-enforcement personnel, that vehicle is issued a citation.

The fine for failing to stop for a school bus in Austin ISD is $300 when captured on camera. If caught by a police officer, that fine could increase to up to $1,250.

“Our school bus safety stop-arm program is working to change driver behavior in Austin,” Hafezizadeh said. “Data illustrates that residents are more aware about school bus safety and this important issue.”

Since the program’s inception, at least six occasions of students hit by vehicles that failed to stop for an extended arm have been recorded.

Austin ISD reminds all drivers:

  • All traffic in most directions must come to a complete stop for school buses that are stopped and displaying the “stop” signal. Traffic traveling in the opposite directions is exempt from stopping only when separated by a fence, unpaved median or other physical barrier.
  • Be watchful around schools and bus stops for children who may run into the street.
  • When driving near children, bus stops and school zones, expect the unexpected.
  • Be cognizant of speed when entering school zones, and be mindful of cell phone restrictions and reduced speed requirements.
  • Look out for children entering the street near buses or between cars.

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Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 and covers Austin ISD for the publication's three Austin markets. She is also the editor of the Southwest Austin edition.
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