School bus cameras to catch violators in Virginia

The school district will install cameras on some of the 17 buses that serve the city\'s four schools. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)

Hank Silverberg,

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – The use of cameras on school buses to catch people passing illegally is growing. Falls Church has become the first community in Virginia to approve them.

The city council made the decision Monday because of a brief survey conducted during a three-day period last November. In it, bus drivers reported that 60 motorists had passed their buses while they were letting out passengers.

The school district will install cameras on some of the 17 buses that serve the city’s four schools with about 2,200 students. That could hapen before the end of the current school year in June.

City spokeswoman Sue Finarelli says the cameras will be put first on buses that run along busy commuter routes like Route 7. The city’s high school and middle school are both on that roadway.

The idea seems to fit with residents of Falls Church which markets itself as “The Little City.”

Carol Ann Farmer is a nanny for a disabled child with a wheelchair. She says it takes a little bit longer to load him on and off the school bus, and some drivers don’t have the patience to wait.

“I have seen people pass around [the bus],” she says.

Sue Giaguardo, a mother of three, says some drivers don’t seem to understand that it’s against the law to pass a bus.

“A lot of people don’t even realize there’s a bus stopped,” she says.

If you get caught by the camera, which turns on when the bus driver opens the door, it will cost you a $250 fine. The ticket will be mail to you automatically after review by a police officer.

There are no points on your license for a camera ticket.

Montgomery County and Frederick County in Maryland started a similar program last fall.

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