Dallas County Schools bus cameras = profiteering?

My feathers got rankled: I heard from a motorist who got two $300 citations for being safe, prudent, and reasonable, all thanks to unreasonable use of school bus flashing lights and automated ticketing machines installed on Dallas County Schools‘s buses.

I fired off the below letter to my Texas legislators. If you are also concerned, contact your legislators (find them here) and Dallas County Schools (info@dcschools.com).

My letter:

Senator Duell and Representative Sheets,

Dallas County Schools has installed automated ticketing machines on its school buses. These machines photograph motorists who pass a stopped school bus that has its red lights flashing.

I am aware of motorists getting pointless $300 automated traffic citations, These are due to how Dallas County Schools bus drivers are using their flashing red lights.

In this case, school bus drivers are activating their red lights when departing or entering bus occupants are simply walking between a bus and a school. These pedestrians will not cross a road. Last I checked, cars don’t drive on sidewalks or across school lawns, so this use of red light flashers to stop cars on an adjacent road–where departing or entering school bus occupants won’t even go–is an abuse of power and disrespectful to Texas citizens.

This needs legislative attention for two reasons:

First, if the law requires bus drivers to use flashing red lights even when it’s pointless, the law should be revised. Drivers should only be permitted to use flashing red lights when students entering or departing the bus are actually going to cross the road that the bus is on.

Second, if this is due to Dallas County Schools policy, then this needs to be investigated by the legislature as an unprecedented cash grab. $300 per automated citation is egregious. This is 400% the cost of a statutorily-authorized red light camera ticket. And that begs the point: are automated ticketing machines on school buses even statutorily-authorized?

I realize we’re in tough economic times, but it’s egregious for Dallas County Schools to collude with area cities to set up unusually expensive traffic tickets enforced by a statutorily-unauthorized automated ticketing machines, apparently so that they can abuse motorists who, while being on the wrong side of the law, could not have possibly endangered a student: you can’t run over kids that won’t even be in the road!

Aren Cambre

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