Updated: 4:05 p.m., Dec. 2, 2019
Since attaching cameras to school buses earlier this year, Mentor police have issued 10 times the number of citations for drivers passing stopped buses.
Before the cameras, Mentor police relied on bus drivers to report drivers who passed them, said Capt. Michael Majernik. But bus drivers are busy focusing on the kids, he said, and the cameras provide more concrete evidence.
The department has issued 50 citations to drivers for passing stopped buses since February, Majernik said. Just five were issued in the same period the previous year.
“A lot of these, unfortunately, are pretty blatant violations,” Majernik said. “It’s not, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize the school bus wasn’t there.’ It’s just blatant disregard for public safety.”
The goal isn’t to cite and fine more drivers, but to encourage public safety, he said.
“We encourage everybody to obey the law and to stop at the school buses, and that’s our ultimate goal,” Majernik said. “If we had zero violations — that would be a success.”
Currently, drivers who pass a stopped bus are given a mandatory court appearance and fined. A bill that would increase penalties has had three committee hearings so far in the Ohio Senate.
The bill would create a vehicular harm felony for drivers who hit a child when passing a stopped bus and double the fine for passing a bus from $500 to $1,000. Fines increase for repeat offenders.
The bill also would set aside $500,000 for installation of cameras on school buses over the next two years.
The Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, which supports the bill, says 4,200 Ohio drivers were ticketed for passing school buses between 2015 and 2017.
Statehouse News Bureau's Karen Kasler contributed to this report.