Caught on Camera: SC Drivers Risking Kids' Lives

Cameras on buses are catching people who drive around vehicles.



COLUMBIA, SC (WLTX)- Drivers in our state are putting children at risk by passing stopped school buses and News 19 has the video to prove it.

"You might lose five minutes going to or from work or where ever you're going," said Lexington-Richand Five Director of Transportation David Weissman. "But its five minutes that could save a child's life."

Five minutes. That's how long it takes to stop for a school bus filled with children.
Weissman pushed for the his district to install cameras on their buses to catch violators.

"You could kill somebody. Its just that simple. And I don't think you'll want to face the parents who has lost their child in regards to your not being wiling to make a correct stop," he said.

A state law passed this time last year states that districts can use camera footage to prosecute drivers who illegally pass buses.

But that doesn't seem to be stopping people. The district provided News 19 with video footage of multiple cars speeding past stopped buses that were letting off children.

"It's outrageous. It's shocking," said Dino Teppara with the South Carolina Department of Education. "It's really disturbing to me because we want to make sure that our children are safe. We know in the morning people are rushing off to work, they're trying to get their kids to school, but at what cost? Should we lose the life of a child because you're breaking the law and speeding past a school bus?"

Before the bus camera law, drivers could only get ticketed if an officer saw the violation first hand.

Now, bus cameras put that power into the hands of schools.

 Teppara says he wants to see every district in the state install these cameras.

"It's disappointing. It tells me that there are people in the community who don't have regard for the lives of other people around them," Teppara said as he watched the footage we collected. "They're driving dangerously, they don't care about our students, we need to send a powerful message that if you're going to break the law, if you're going to endanger our students and bus drivers and people in the community, we're going to come after you."

So next time you come upon a stopped school bus, remember you might be on camera, and if nothing else, remember those buses are filled with young lives.

The Department of Public Safety, Highway Patrol, and the Department of Education are teaming up to launch a school bus safety awareness campaign this week.

The SC Highway Patrol alone made 51 cases statewide during the last school year against people violating the school bus stop arm law.

Last year bus drivers in 28 counties were asked to count the number of passing violations they saw. In one day that number totaled 386.


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