Carroll County Public Schools in Bowden, Ga., located near the Alabama state line, plans to mount cameras on stop arms to record motorists who fail to stop for school buses that are loading and unloading students.
Georgia law requires all traffic to stop when a school bus turns on its red flashing lights and activates its stop arm. This applies to motorists driving on two-lane roads with or without a center turn lane, four-lane roads without a center divider or median and roads of four lanes or more with a center turn lane. Only vehicles traveling on a highway of four lanes or more with a center divider are exempt.
The penalty is a $300 fine for the first stop-arm violation, a $750 fine for the second and a $1,000 fine for a third violation in a five-year period.
Still, nearly one dozen students have been killed in the school bus loading and unloading zone over the past five years. In response, the Georgia Legislature passed a bill last year that allows school districts to install the stop arm cameras to help law enforcement identify and punish more offenders.
"Our goal is to educate and awaken drivers to the dangers of illegally passing school buses." said Jackie Coffee, director of transportation for Carroll County Schools. "Some Georgia drivers are not educated on the Georgia School Bus Stop laws and are unintentionally putting our students' lives in danger. Keeping our children safe is our No. 1 priority, and we want to change driver behaviors in a positive way to protect the lives of the children who ride a school bus to and from school every day.
"This is an imperative safety need and we are proud to have this additional tool to help protect our children."
The district selected CrossingGuard powered by the Angeltrax Intelliguard camera to catch motorists in the act and is partnering with American Traffic Solutions to process the violations. With an expected rollout for the start of the 2012-2013 school year, the cameras will automatically detect any vehicle that illegally passes the deployed stop arm in either direction. The camera will then capture video of the violation and still images of a vehicle's license plate. The violation video and license plate images are then reviewed by law enforcement for approval prior to a citation being issued.
"We are excited about this collaboration between the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, Carroll County Schools and American Traffic Solutions," said Sheriff Terry Langley. "This new technology will no doubt enhance the safety of our highways by protecting all of us — most importantly, our most valued resource, our children."
American Traffic Solutions also offers a downloadable form on its website for drivers to use when manually reporting illegal passers.