I hated the red light camera program. Such an obvious money grab bilking the public. Towns deciding on their own how long you had to be stopped completely before making a right turn on red. Cameras that weren't properly certified. It was one of those issues where I knew I was right from day one.

So when bill S-211 came along regarding placing cameras on school buses to catch people illegally passing them I felt certain this was bad news. Not exactly the red light camera program, but law enforcement through a lens and tickets in the mail nonetheless. And over a problem I hadn't seen as a big enough issue to get draconian over.

Then the calls came in. More on those in a second.

This latest legislative effort softens up what was tried before. In past bills, the cameras would snap photos of anyone passing a school bus when it was stopped with red flashing lights and the obvious stop sign swung out. The registered owner would receive a ticket in the mail and it would come with 5 points on your license. They took away the points this time, but the fine goes from the current $100-$250 to $300-$500 and a judge can also impose 15 days community service or even jail time. Too much in my mind for a situation that didn't seem to be happening all that often.

Boy was I wrong.

We brought this up on the show Tuesday and listener after listener told horror stories of close calls or worse involving people recklessly ignoring the school bus stop signs and blowing right by them. One parent remembered the day his children came frighteningly close to being killed in the road when they were about to walk in front of the bus and across the street and a car swung around their bus at a high rate of speed. It was only the school bus driver blaring the horn that made the children stop short. An officer called in who told of a call he responded to years ago where a young child was struck and killed in such a manner. Many school bus drivers called in to share that this was a daily experience, not a once in a blue moon thing. Some bus drivers have taken down people's license plates when they could get a fast enough look and met up with these reckless drivers in court to see justice was served.

For four years between living in Plainsboro and then Hillsborough, I did a parent drop off each morning. My work schedule allowed it and it was nice spending the time with my kids. I was on the road in the thick of school bus morning runs and I had never once seen this happen. Going by my own anecdotal experience I didn't find the need for such a drastic law. Anything that hinted at the old red light camera days was, I thought, too much. But after hearing all these real life stories from other parents and from school bus drivers themselves I have to admit I was wrong. This dangerous behavior clearly is going on, and if S-211 would help stop it then it needs to become law.

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