School bus surveillance cameras will be installed on county school buses, according to Douglas County School System Transportation Coordinator Andy Micacchione.
He said the surveillance cameras should be installed, and in operation, when students return from the holiday break on Jan. 7.
Douglas County School Superintendent Gordon Pritz said student safety is the county’s main priority.
“Our goal is to educate drivers about the Georgia school bus stop laws that protect the lives of the children who ride Douglas County School buses every day,” he said.
The cameras are designed to help identify motorists, through car license plates, who illegally drive past extended school bus stop safety arms.
The safety arm is the metal rod which extends from the front of the bus outward and is immediately deployed when the bus’ red stop sign extends from the side of the vehicle as students file in or out of it.
This enhanced safety measure is the product of a partnership between American Traffic Solutions, which provided the cameras, and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Douglas County School System.
Micacchione said the video enforcement program will not cost the school district any additional funds. American Traffic Solutions is paying for the cameras, the promotional information that will be broadcast on the county’s local television station and on area billboards and on other special promotional items.
The cameras, he said, will be mounted on the side of the school bus and when the “Stop” arm of the bus is deployed, the camera automatically turns on and can detect a vehicle illegally passing the extended safety arm, going in either direction.
“The camera will not only produce a video of a violation but provide still images of the vehicle’s license plate,” Micacchione said.
He said Georgia had led the nation with more than 20 school children killed in the last five years by motorists illegally passing school buses while they are stopped and in the process of loading or unloading students.
A Douglas County High School student was killed in 2011 at a bus stop, Micacchione said.
“This enforcement system works with local law enforcement to issue a citation to the registered vehicle owner which is identified through the automobile tag photographed by the on-board camera,” he said.
In Georgia, the penalty for the school bus stop arm violation will cost the driver $300 for the first violation, $750 for a second violation and $1,000 for the third, Micacchione said