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Lesson 1: See The Bus Stop. See The Driver Pass. See The Ticket In The Mailbox.

Starting today, Dallas drivers who pass a school bus with the ‘stop arm’ activated will get a $300 ticket in the mail. The grace period is over – no more ‘warnings’ when cameras on the school buses catch violators.

State law makes it illegal to pass a stopped school bus. And, for more than a month, cameras installed in school buses operating in Dallas have been recording violators’ license plates and mailing warning letters.

Larry Duncan is with Dallas County Schools, which operates the buses. He says the warning period confirmed what he had feared: that students’ safety is being jeopardized by drivers illegally passing a bus stopped to load or unload students.

“We found every bus that was running in the city of Dallas, which is 875 buses, every bus had an average of one violator a day,” said Duncan.

Duncan says the Dallas bus cam system is the only one in the state. The first $300 ticket hasn’t been mailed yet, but he says other school bus operators and school districts want to know more about the stop-arm cameras.

Stop-Arm Camera Program

“We have had inquiries from all over the state and we are getting with those districts to help them,” said Duncan.

Duncan is also looking expand to other Dallas County cities.

The Texas Transportation Institute estimates more than 16,000 Texas drivers a day ignore the school bus stop-arms.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.