Oregon House Passes School Bus Camera Bill

At least 24 states have laws allowing such cameras.

This is a photo of students getting off of a school bus.

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A bill that resulted from a student coming within seconds of being struck by an aggressive driver is one step closer to becoming law in Oregon.

A high school student, Sean Sype, saw and reported the incident, prompting Rep. Courtney Neron, D-Wilsonville, to introduce House Bill 4147, which would allow school districts to add cameras to school buses to catch and ticket drivers who break state law by blowing past the stop signs and flashing red lights on buses, endangering students’ lives. The measure passed the House on a bipartisan 49-5 vote on Monday and is headed to the Senate.

Sype, a junior at Wilsonville High School, described his experience in written testimony submitted to the House Education Committee.

“I am passionate about this bill passing because on October 15, 2021, I witnessed an aggressive driver speed past the bus stop-arm while one of my peers was exiting the bus,” he said. “If that student had been crossing the road, he would have possibly been killed. It is important that drivers who ignore the law are held accountable.”

At least 24 states, including Idaho and Washington, have laws allowing such cameras, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The National Transportation Safety Board recommended every state allow the cameras after a pickup truck driver struck four children, killing three of them, in Indiana in 2018.

Neron cited a 2023 report from the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, a school bus driver organization, that surveys drivers throughout the country each year. Oregon bus drivers documented 1,427 incidents of drivers illegally passing them on just one day, and throughout the country bus drivers reported more than 62,000 violations in a single day.

Failing to stop for a stopped bus with flashing red lights is already the highest level of traffic violation, punishable by a fine up to $2,000. The bill would allow districts to partner with local law enforcement to send tickets to drivers caught on camera breaking the law.

The bill doesn’t include funding for school districts to add cameras or for local police to review footage and send tickets. Rep. Boomer Wright, R-Coos Bay, supported the measure but said the lack of funding bothered him.

“When we propose a bill that costs school districts and police departments money, maybe we ought to fund it,” Wright said.

Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, was one of only five lawmakers to vote against the measure, and he said he voted “no” for consistency. He has long opposed photo radar programs because he doesn’t trust that data gathered by the cameras when they’re not actively taking pictures of lawbreakers will remain secure.

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: info@oregoncapitalchronicle.com. Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter.

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