The company that manages the school bus routes in both Columbus and Aberdeen is warning motorists that illegally pass buses unloading children that they may get caught on candid camera. Waters Truck and Tractor transports thousand of local students safely to their schools each school day but representatives from the company said that an increasing number of drivers are ignoring the law and passing buses while they are unloading. Waters Truck and Tractor is researching camera systems that could be installed on buses so that offending drivers would be caught on video when they endanger the children. Cameras on buses were made legal when Mississippi lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2472 in 2011.
The law states that the first conviction for illegally passing a school bus stop results in a fine of at least $350 and as much as $750 or a jail sentence of up to one year. The fine for a second offense occurring within a five-year window increases to between $750 and $1,500, another jail sentence of up to a year and loss of driving privileges for 90 days. The owner of the vehicle is responsible for all fines, regardless if they were driving the car at the time of the violation.
The law means motorists must now stop at least 10 feet from a school bus when the bus is loading or unloading children, and one can’t proceed until all children have crossed the street to or from the school bus and the flashing red lights are no longer activated and the stop sign on the side of the bus is retracted. The law also clarified that motorists must stop for school buses loading and unloading students on highways of four lanes or more, regardless if there is a center median or turn lane.
Columbus Police Chief Selvain McQueen told The Packet that he is aware of the issue and that Columbus Police are going to take action.
“Our citizens will notice Officers are going to strictly enforce all laws pertaining to school zone speed limits and passing buses. We will ramp up enforcement in the coming weeks and we will do our best to protect both our students and our citizens” McQueen said.0