Oregon House Votes to Approve School Bus Camera Legislation

Legislation stemming from a student narrowly avoiding a collision with a reckless driver is progressing in Oregon.

The bill, known as House Bill 4147, was initiated by Rep. Courtney Neron, D-Wilsonville, after high school student Sean Sype flagged an incident where a driver violated stop signs on school buses. This bill allows school districts to install cameras on buses to capture and penalize drivers who flout traffic laws endangering students. The legislation was approved by a 49-5 vote in the House and now advances to the Senate.

Sype, a junior at Wilsonville High School, shared his account with the House Education Committee through written testimony.

“I strongly support this bill because I personally witnessed a driver recklessly passing a bus with its stop-arm activated while a fellow student was getting off,” Sype stated. “The potential consequences of such actions are grave, and it’s crucial to hold such drivers accountable for their negligence.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 24 states, including Idaho and Washington, permit the use of bus cameras to enforce traffic regulations. This move was backed by the National Transportation Safety Board following a tragic incident in Indiana in 2018 where three children lost their lives due to a driver’s violation.

Neron referenced a 2023 report by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, revealing alarming statistics. Oregon alone recorded 1,427 instances of illegal bus passing in a single day, with over 62,000 violations reported nationwide.

Disregarding a bus with red lights is a serious traffic offense, carrying fines of up to $2,000. The proposed measure empowers districts to collaborate with law enforcement to penalize offenders identified through camera footage.

Notably, the bill does not allocate funds for cameras on buses or for law enforcement’s ticket review process. Rep. Boomer Wright, R-Coos Bay, expressed support for the bill but raised concerns about the funding gap.

“If we’re imposing costs on schools and police, we should provide adequate funding,” Wright emphasized.

Contrary to most legislators, Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, opposed the bill due to his steadfast stance against photo radar programs. He cited data privacy concerns associated with camera surveillance when not actively capturing violations.

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