Background

In 2017 the Bellevue School District implemented a pilot stop paddle camera program on two of its buses. The experiment showed an average of three violations a day just on these two buses. In October 2018 the district installed stop paddle cameras on 20 percent of its bus fleet. The goal of this program is to improve student safety.

There was a grace period in December 2018 when violators of bus safety laws received a warning and not a citation. Enforcement began when students returned from Winter Break in January 2019 and drivers who have illegally passed a school bus since then have been issued a $419 ticket.

The program will continue to run throughout the summer for our students attending summer school. During the summer we will have eight more cameras installed on our buses, with a focus on buses that transport our special education students.

We feel fortunate that a student has not been severely hurt and want to put preventive measures in place to make the public aware of the issue and reduce the likelihood of an accident. Our hope is that a greater number of drivers will stop as required for school buses and the number of violations will diminish over the lifetime of this program.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a school bus violation?

A school bus violation occurs when a motorist passes a school bus after the school bus has come to a complete stop with its stop arm extended and lights flashing.

Remember:

  • You must ALWAYS stop if you are traveling in the same direction as the school bus.
  • On a two-lane road, traffic in both directions need to stop.
  • If there are three or more lanes, or a divided roadway, you are not required to stop if you are traveling in the opposite direction of the bus.
  • Please keep in mind, that even if you are not required to stop, you need to proceed with caution.
  • Failure to stop for a school bus can run you a $419 citation.

To read Washington’s law on stopping for school buses, you can visit the state Legislature’s website.

2-lane roadway: both directions stop

Diagram illustrating when to stop when school bus lights are flashing or stop bar is out on a 2-lane roadway.

3 plus lanes: stop if traveling same direction as bus

Diagram illustrating when to stop when school bus lights are flashing or stop bar is out on a 3 plus lane roadway.

Turning lane: stop if traveling same direction as bus

Diagram illustrating when to stop when school bus lights are flashing or stop bar is out on a roadway with a turning lane.

Median: stop if traveling same direction as bus

Diagram illustrating when to stop when school bus lights are flashing or stop bar is out on a roadway with a median.
What are stop paddle cameras?

Stop paddle cameras are similar to cameras at traffic lights.  When a school bus stops to pick up or drop off students, the bus driver puts on the amber lights, followed by the red lights and then the stop paddle is extended prior to opening the door for students.  When stop paddles are extended, drivers are required to follow state laws regarding stopping and waiting.  The size of the road and the direction of travel dictate which vehicles are expected to stop.

What is the goal of the program?

The goal of the program is to improve student safety. Our hope is that a greater number of drivers will stop as required for school buses and the number of violations will diminish over the lifetime of the program.

Why are you implementing these stop paddle cameras?

Bus drivers are concerned with student safety and worry every time the door is opened. In 2017 we implemented a pilot program on two of buses. This experiment showed an average of three violations a day just on these two buses. We feel fortunate that a student has not been severely hurt up to now and want to put preventive measures in place to make the public aware of the issue and reduce the likelihood of an accident.

When was the program implemented?

The first cameras were installed in October 2018. Following installation, there was a grace period in December 2018 for drivers before citations were be issued. Enforcement began when students returned from Winter Break in January 2019 and drivers who have illegally passed a school bus since then have be issued a $419 ticket from the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Will these cameras be on all BSD buses?

In October 2018, cameras were installed on 27 BSD buses – which is 20 percent of the fleet. The specific bus routes will vary and will be determined based on bus driver feedback, route analysis, traffic patterns and law enforcement violation statistics. Cameras will be used on routes with the highest risk for students and will change over the course of the school year.

During the summer of 2019 we will have eight more cameras installed on our buses, with a focus on buses that transport our special education students.

How much is the citation?

Drivers who do not observe the laws related to stop paddles will be issued a $419 ticket. Violators cannot take a driving course to reduce or defer the fine.

Will this citation go on my driving record?

The citation is like a parking ticket and will not be part of the violator’s driving record.

How much does it cost the district to implement this program?

The citations should cover the cost of the program, which includes the cost of King County court to issue tickets and prosecute. The company installing and managing the cameras charges a fee based on the number of citations issued. Any remaining funds will be invested in student safety.

Who can I contact if I have more questions?

The King County Sherriff’s Office manages all citations. They can be reached at (206) 296-4155. The district’s Transportation Department can also answer questions and can be reached at (425) 456-4512.


News
a school bus with the stop paddle extended

923 Violations Recorded with Bus Paddle Cameras

As the school year wrapped up, so did the first year of our bus paddle camera program. From January to June the program was fully active, and the cameras recorded 923 violations of vehicles failing to stop when the bus stop paddle was fully extended. Student safety and well-being continues to be a priority for the district. We hope as the program continues the number of violations will decrease.Read More

An extended school bus stop paddle.

Bus Paddle Cameras Grace Period & Enforcement Date

As you know student safety stop paddle cameras were installed on 20 percent of our buses in October. The district continues to work with King County on the implementation of the bus stop paddle cameras and together we have determined that the grace period for violators will be from Dec. 3 – Dec. 21. During this time, drivers who do not stop will receive a warning letter by mail.Read More