Under the Dome

Cooper to propose stop-arm camera legislation

Attorney General Roy Cooper said this week he will propose legislation that would allow cameras on more school buses to catch drivers who pass them illegally.

School districts around the nation have installed stop-arm cameras on buses meant to discourage drivers from passing as the buses load or drop off students.

Cooper said he would leave it to the Child Fatality Task Force to work out the details. Districts in other states have contracts with companies that come at no cost to the districts and where the schools keep part of the money that’s collected in fines.

It's a “significant deterrent,” Cooper said at a Monday meeting of the Wake Democratic Men’s Club. “No public tax money would pay for anything. The system would pay for itself.”

The legislature would have to pass a law allowing local school boards statewide to sign contracts with companies, Cooper said.

The state has had three tests of stop-arm cameras since the late 1990s, according to a report last year by the Institute for Transportation Research and Education. The latest test involved a handful of buses in five counties.

School bus safety is something legislators have been working on. Over the years, they’ve gradually stiffened penalties for passing stopped school buses, according to the report.

The state budget included $690,000 to spend last year and the same amount for this year to install cameras in two school buses in each of the 115 school districts, the report said.