Few school bus stop arm violations going to court

Few school bus stop arm violations going to court

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Stop arm cameras are being placed on some school buses in North Carolina in an effort to crack down on drivers who illegally pass stopped buses. But is the effort all for naught if drivers aren't being prosecuted?

According to the 2015 statistics from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI), more than 3,100 people illegally pass a stopped school bus on any given day.

In a typical 180-day school year, drivers illegally pass a school bus, on average, more than 558,000 times each year.

But according to reports, only 1,322 people were charged with passing a stopped school bus during the 2013-14 fiscal year, meaning less than one percent of drivers who pass stopped school buses are prosecuted.

School leaders hope that more stop arms cameras will help the number of dismissals go down. After a state-funded pilot program equipped four counties with stop arm camera, the state is now setting aside funds to buy stop arm cameras for every county.

"We're going to take the information of these cameras, and probably get more cameras to help the situation and to give law enforcement a tool to use to make sure the motoring public either pays attention or pays up," explained Derek Graham, with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

The number of cameras per county also widely differs. Using state funding, most counties purchased cameras to equip two buses.

Mecklenburg and Wake counties, the two counties with the most buses on the road in North Carolina, are in that group with just two buses, each, equipped with stop arm cameras. This is according to the latest numbers from DPI, released last year.

However, other counties have invested more funds into the technology.

In Catawba County, 40 of the county's 184 buses were equipped with stop arm cameras.

Each county is expected to receive more money for cameras this school year.

Copyright 2015 WBTV. WNCN contributed to this report. All rights reserved.