The Alabama Legislature is about to approve a new law that would let Mobile County go after motorists who ignore school bus stop signs.
27,000 children ride on school buses in Mobile County every day. The goal of this new law is to keep them safe.
“It happens every day that someone goes around the stop arm,” said Rep. Margie Wilcox, R-Mobile, who sponsored the bill. “Some of my very good friends are bus drivers and to hear their stories on a daily basis.”
The bill will allow the more than 630 school buses in Mobile County to be equipped with multiple cameras.
“The cameras (would be) strategically placed on the stop arm… and around the bus,” explained Pat Mitchell, Transportation Coordinator for the Mobile County Public School System.
The cameras would identify violators who would then be mailed a $300 ticket.
The camera vendors get paid through a negotiated percentage of the fine money.
“All of the up front cost will be borne by the camera company,” said Wilcox. “They will have all the costs of operation and maintenance of the cameras.”
“It will be no cost to the citizens,” added Mitchell.
After the camera company takes its negotiated share… the rest would be divided up like this:
50-percent to the school system
20-percent to the municipality or county where the offense takes place,
20-percent to the South Regional Highway Office, a regional agency promoting safety
10-percent to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
Supporters, however, say it’s not about money – but safety.
“The target for us is not to make sure law enforcement issues citations,” said Mitchell. “That’s not our intended goal. Our intended goal is to make sure our children our safe every day.”
Mitchell says a trial run last year on a handful of Mobile County buses revealed 60 stop arm violations in just a week.
The law has already passed both the house and the senate, but will have to again, after Governor Bentley today tacked on an executive amendment to clarify some of the language in the bill. Those re-votes will likely take place this week.
This is a local bill that impacts school systems in *only* in Mobile County.