New school bus cameras to catch drivers who endanger kids

SEATTLE - Two Puget Sound school districts are installing cameras on their school buses to catch drivers who speed around them while students are getting on or off.

The Bethel School District in south Pierce County and the Highline School District in south King County will each be installing the cameras on 10 buses in the coming weeks.

School officials are hoping the surveillance cameras will catch offenders who pass school buses when they are loading or unloading students with their red stop sign paddles out.

Drivers who fail to stop are subject to a $394 fine - and they endanger the lives of children.

The system works like this:

When the bus' stop paddle goes out, two cameras start working. One snaps three successive images of the car, driver and license plate illegally passing the bus. The second, a video camera, records it all.

One bus driver in the Bethel district told KOMO News how she literally saved a student's life from a driver illegally passing her bus.

"The girl stepped off, and a car came up the right on the shoulder. ... I grabbed her and pulled her in or she would have been hit by a car," says the 27-year bus driver, Cathy Larsen.

The two school districts will pay absolutely nothing for the cameras. Instead, violators will pay for them - $69 of every fine goes to American Traffic Solutions, the company providing the hardware.

The rest of the fine goes to the courts and districts, which must be put back into safety.