The state of Georgia is proof that once states pass legislation in support of outfitting school buses with stop-arm cameras to catch illegal passers, such programs will spread.
Since 2011, when Georgia law began permitting counties to equip school buses with video cameras to aid in enforcement of school bus stop laws, a dozen school districts there have turned to this technology.
Now, Paulding County School District in Dallas, Ga., has teamed up with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and deployed its CrossingGuard technology to address the problem of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses with extended stop arms and flashing lights. The county is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area.
“Our goal is to educate our drivers and community regarding the dangers of passing a school bus when it is stopped to load or unload students,” said Terre Loveall, Paulding County director of transportation. “Violations of this law put our students’ lives in danger. We hope this initiative will change driver behavior and help us protect the lives of children who ride a school bus to and from school every day.”
In Georgia, the penalty is $300 for a first stop-arm violation, $750 for a second violation and $1,000 for a third violation within a five-year period.
According to the NASDPTS 2013 Stop Arm Violation Survey, 12,136 Georgia school bus drivers participated in the April 25 count and tallied 6,807 vehicles passing stopped buses in one day.
“Keeping the students of Paulding County safe is our number-one priority. It is important that drivers educate themselves on the Georgia school bus stop laws,” added Loveall.
To educate parents and the motoring public, the district has posted information on its new CrossingGuard stop-arm enforcement program online, along with specifics on state traffic laws, websites to national safety and school-bus industry associations and other resources.
When school buses deploy their stop arm, the video camera automatically detects a vehicle illegally passing the bus in either direction and captures video of the violation and still images of a vehicle’s license plate. The video and license plate images are then reviewed by law enforcement for approval before a citation is issued.
“We are excited about this collaboration between the Paulding County School District, Paulding County Sheriff’s Office and American Traffic Solutions,” said Sheriff Gary Gulledge. “This new technology will no doubt enhance the safety of our highways by protecting all of us — and most importantly, our most valued resource, our children.”
An ATS spokeswoman told STN the company operates enforcement programs in more than 80 percent of the buses in Georgia that have stop-arm cameras installed. ATS partners with AngelTrax for the camera hardware. In recent months, Clayton County Schools in Jonesboro and Marietta City Schools have also implemented the CrossingGuard solution.