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Article updated: 11/29/2013 1:05 PM

Pass a stopped school bus at your peril in Prospect Heights

Prospect Heights Elementary District 23 school buses will soon be equipped with more than just stop signs - they’ll have cameras that shoot photos of vehicles that illegally pass.

Prospect Heights Elementary District 23 school buses will soon be equipped with more than just stop signs - they'll have cameras that shoot photos of vehicles that illegally pass.

 

Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

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Prospect Heights and Prospect Heights Elementary District 23 will partner to put cameras on school buses to catch drivers who illegally pass stopped buses.

A new law legalizes the use of cameras on school buses, just as red-light cameras are used at traffic signals, said Prospect Heights Police Chief Jamie Dunne. The city council approved the plan Monday.

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District 23 officials are excited about the prospect, and once the school board approves it they can contract with a company to have the equipment installed on buses, said Dunne.

"Like all police departments, we get complaints from school bus drivers, who tell us the date, time location and license number (of the offending driver)," Dunne said.

"We send a warning letter. The only way we can issue a ticket is for the school bus driver to show up in court as the complaining witness, and they often can't do that because of their work schedule."

Dunne said he does not have enough officers to follow school buses and arrest violators.

"I see this as a force multiplier to enforce a law that is strictly intended for the safety of the children," he said.

RedSpeed of Lombard operates red light cameras for Prospect Heights, and they also would provide the bus cameras. The camera is automatically activated when the "Stop" sign arms are extended.

Just as with traffic lights, RedSpeed will issue notices of violation and collect the fines. The first offense will cost a driver $150; and the second $500.

RedSpeed will get $75 for each violation and would be responsible for the cost of the cameras. The city and the school district would each receive $37.50.

A police officer would approve each ticket, and drivers who object can appeal to an administrative hearing.

District 23 also serves some Wheeling students, and that village may also want to participate, said Dunne.

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