GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Governor Roy Cooper was in Greenville Tuesday where he signed into law a bill allowing counties in the state to install cameras on the stop signs of school buses.
Cooper said the School Bus Cameras and Civil Penalties Law is about the state ensuring the safety parents expect.
“When parents put their kids on the bus to go to school, they expect them to be safe,” Cooper said.
The cameras would take pictures of a passing cars’ license plates if they pass while the sign is out.
After signing the bill, Cooper brought up the case of 16-year old David Palacio.
“Not too long ago in Onslow County a 16-year-old was killed when someone illegally passed a stopped school bus,” said Cooper.
Erick Edwards has been driving buses for 17 years in Pitt County, and he said people pass stopped school buses all the time.
“You’d be amazed,” said Edwards. “You’d be amazed at how many people really don’t pay attention. If I had to say in a three-hour span you may catch it may be two or three people that run a stop sign.”
He said he is aware of the distractions drivers are facing but that safety needs to the top priority.
“These are people’s lives,” said Edwards. “These are kids that want to live to see the age in which they are. So it’s not fair for you to take their life just because of a five-second decision where you tried to answer your phone.”
If a driver is convicted of passing a stopped school bus they could receive a fine of $400 up to $1,000.
Money made off of the tickets would go right back into the school system.
Pitt County plans to add cameras to their school buses in order to crack down on drivers who ignored the stopped buses.
Parents like Laquanda Hill say the addition of the cameras will help immensely, but for those who continue to drive around the stopped buses, she hopes those fines that can now range from 400 up to a thousand dollars will help stop them moving forward.
Laquanda Hill says her child’s safety is her number one concern and is glad people can more easily be caught and held responsible.
“Once they were issued a driver’s license that’s when their responsibility kicked in,” said Hill. “So anyone that’s of age to get a license should have that responsibility to slow down and watch out cause that’s the responsibility of the driver on the highway.”