Monday, June 08, 2015

Schools, local police using cameras to crack down on motorists illegally passing school buses

School districts and local law enforcement across the country are teaming up to use technology to catch motorists illegally passing school buses, an issue that is particularly bad in rural areas where roads are more dangerous and pedestrians are more exposed to be struck by a vehicle. (National Coalition for Safer Roads photo: A camera equipped to a school bus)

The Bartow County School System in northwestern Georgia, which has mounted a driver's side camera on 17 school buses, issued 853 tickets for illegally passing a school bus during the 2014-15 school year, up from 574 tickets in 2013-14, Donna Harris reports for The Daily Tribune News in Cartersville. Drivers face a $300 fine for the first offense, $750 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third offense within five years.

Transportation Director Jody Elrod said the tickets are sending a message to drivers to obey the laws around school buses, Harris writes. Elrod told her, “I believe [the program is] making a difference. I have spoken with several folks that have received tickets, and they all say it won’t happen again, and they certainly will use more caution when approaching a school bus that is loading/unloading students. Stopping the violations and, therefore, making the bus stops safe is the goal we are looking to achieve.”

A similar program has been launched in Kanawha County, West Virginia. Keith Vititoe, director of security at Kanawha County Schools, said a survey in April showed that 90 motorists passed a school bus in one day in Kanawha County, Wade Livingston reports for the Charleston Gazette. Vititoe told him, "That’s just one county. You consider that with every district in the state; it’s a pretty pervasive problem.”

The district is hoping to team up with local law enforcement to cut down on violations, Livingston writes. Vititoe told him, "I understand that law enforcement doesn’t have the time to run around and do a full investigation of every traffic violation. It’s just not possible. But if we are in a position to provide basically everything to them on a silver platter, then that would decrease the investigation time. And, hopefully, we’ll have more charges filed—and more convictions.”

Studies estimate that 50,000 drivers in New York illegally pass school buses ever day, reports WNYT in Albany. On April 16 the state had an initiative to ticket motorists illegally passing school buses and gave out 1,186 citations. In Gwinnett County, Georgia, which includes rural and urban centers, 12,000 citations were written this year through May, Aungelique Proctor reports for Fox 5 in Atlanta.

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