Houston County Considers Bus Stop Cameras

5:19 PM, Aug 9, 2012   |    comments
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Houston County school bus drivers say they see drivers ignore school bus stop arms everyday, putting children in danger.

Now, the board of education is considering placing cameras on the sides of buses to help them ticket drivers violating the law.

After 31 years behind the wheel, bus driver Queen Davis knows every obstacle.

She said, "It's so much you gotta watch for." That includes drivers who don't follow the rules of the road.

Davis said, "It's several things they do that make you just want to choke 'em you know?"

She says drivers frequently ignore here stop sign. In fact, she says it happens everyday.

Davis said, "It can cause all kinds of problems. You can hit a child."

Putting the brakes on the issue could be just ahead says Transportation Director Frank Scott. He said, "They are going to probably have three cameras on the side of the bus."

He's leading the effort to install small cameras on 20 school buses. He says the system uses about 180 buses on a daily buses. Scott says placing cameras on every bus would not be cost effective, and the hope is the cameras will change driver behavior.

Scott said, "It'll capture the vehicle itself. Another one would get a snapshot of the license plate. Also, it can get a picture of the driver."

The company that owns the camera monitors what happens on the road. If they see a violation, they would send the information to the Houston County Sheriffs Office for them to review the pictures and video. If the Sheriff's Office decides the video and pictures show a violation, they send that information back to the company. The company then mails a citation to the violator.

A first time offense costs $300. Scott says the camera company would get 75-percent of the fines in the first year, because the equipment and installation is provided at no cost to the school system. The sheriff's office and the school system split the rest of the fines.

Scott said the issue is not about money. He said, "It's the last thing on our mind. Our mind is student safety."

Davis says on-board cameras already watch her and the kids, so why not add more to monitor the behavior of drivers?

She said, "I think it would be wonderful."

Installing the cameras came-up at last months school board meeting, but board members tabled the issue wanting more information on a contract with the camera company and exactly how many buses would get the cameras.

Thursday, board members Marianne Melnick and Fred Wilson said they like the idea for student safety, but won't make a final decision until next Tuesday's board meeting at 1 p.m. in Perry.

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