Passing the flashing lights of a school bus might soon cost you lots of money

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School bus(WTVG)
Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 6:52 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Not only is it dangerous and illegal to pass a school bus with its lights flashing, it may soon be costly too.

A new bill is making its way through the Ohio Senate that could soon add a $300 fine to the action.

We have seen what can happen when a driver passes a school bus unloading kids. You might recall an incident from US 6 in Henry County back in 2019. Luckily there were no serious injuries, but incidents like it are prompting something new out of Columbus.

“Whatever we put in place I want to make sure we’re achieving that goal of protecting our kids and making sure they’re as safe as possible going to and from school,” said State Senator Theresa Gavarone.

Senator Theresa Gavarone has authored a new bill that would allow a $300 civil penalty for anyone going around the flashing school bus lights if they are caught on a camera mounted on the bus.

“If you know you’re going to get a $300 dollar fine by passing a school bus then that’s going to change behavior,” said Gavarone.

This won’t be mandatory for districts. They will need to purchase their own cameras if they don’t already have them. Gavarone says there are also private companies that will supply these cameras and issue the citations.

Anyone passing a bus could still face criminal penalty if they are caught by law enforcement. Gavarone says the cameras help drivers who are supposed to be focused on kids.

“You’re a school bus. There’s a lot going on, you’ve got kids. And your number one priority is protecting the kids who are on your bus or entering or exiting the bus and making sure they are safe. You don’t always have the ability to get a license plate and identify the driver,” said Gavarone.

Some of the money collected from the fine will go to a school bus safety fund, the law enforcement agency, the private camera company (if used) and to the school district.

Drivers will be able to appeal the citation to municipal court.

This law still needs to go through both the Ohio Senate and House.

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