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Marysville school bus cameras keep an eye on drivers

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MARYSVILLE, Wash. - School buses rolling out in the Marysville School District will keep an eye on drivers for an entire school year.

Last March, the district installed cameras on 10 of their 105 yellow school buses to catch drivers illegally passing buses that had stopped to drop off students.

“We were shocked really how many people actually pass buses when the stop arm is out,” said Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg.

In May, the cameras caught 47 drivers making an illegal pass, and 13 motorists were cited in June during the final two weeks of school. Each driver was fined $419.

But despite the extra revenue for the district generated by the traffic fines, Dr. Berg says the cameras are meant for safety and not money.

“We don’t want to make a dime; we want to make sure people know that big yellow bus has our most precious cargo inside,” said Berg. “It only takes a few minutes to load and unload and most of us can handle that during our day.”

Several school districts in the Washington state began using cameras on their school buses after state lawmakers approved their installation in 2011.

Marysville was the first school district in Snohomish County to install the cameras.

Those cameras were attached to buses on 10 of their busiest routes in the city limits of Marysville.

Here is the current state law on illegally passing a school bus in Washington:

RCW 46.61.370

Overtaking or meeting school bus, exceptions—Duties of bus driver—Penalty—Safety cameras.

- The driver of a vehicle upon overtaking or meeting from either direction any school bus which has stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children shall stop the vehicle before reaching such school bus when there is in operation on said school bus a visual signal as specified in RCW 46.37.190 and said driver shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion or the visual signals are no longer activated.

- The driver of a vehicle upon a highway divided into separate roadways as provided in RCW 46.61.150 need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.

- The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with three or more marked traffic lanes need not stop upon meeting a school bus which is proceeding in the opposite direction and is stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.

- The driver of a school bus shall actuate the visual signals required by RCW 46.37.190 only when such bus is stopped on the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children.

- The driver of a school bus may stop completely off the roadway for the purpose of receiving or discharging school children only when the school children do not have to cross the roadway. The school bus driver shall actuate the hazard warning lamps as defined in RCW 46.37.215 before loading or unloading school children at such stops.

- Except as provided in subsection (7) of this section, a person found to have committed an infraction of subsection (1) of this section shall be assessed a monetary penalty equal to twice the total penalty assessed under RCW 46.63.110. This penalty may not be waived, reduced, or suspended. Fifty percent of the money so collected shall be deposited into the school zone safety account in the custody of the state treasurer and disbursed in accordance with RCW 46.61.440(5).

- An infraction of subsection (1) of this section detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera under RCW 46.63.180 is not a part of the registered owner's driving record under RCW 46.52.101 and46.52.120, and must be processed in the same manner as parking infractions, including for the purposes of RCW 3.50.100, 35.20.220, 46.16A.120, and 46.20.270(3). However, the amount of the fine issued for a violation of this section detected through the use of an automated school bus safety camera shall not exceed twice the monetary penalty for a violation of this section as provided under RCW 46.63.110.

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