Red light cameras may be coming to a school bus near you

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School bus

Some school buses may soon have watchdog cameras mounted to those stop signs. Image: Cast a Line/Flickr/CC BY

Debate over the effectiveness and the constitutionality of red light cameras has been heated over the past year. Traditionally mounted at intersections, the traffic watchdog cameras may be finding yet another place to monitor impatient motorists. Many communities are now debating the possibility of putting the cameras onto school buses.

Mounted on folding stop sign paddles

State lawmakers and city councils in Georgia, Connecticut, Maryland, Washington and Louisiana are all discussing plans and proposing initiatives to mount traffic watchdog cameras directly onto the folding stop sign paddles of school buses. Rather than catching motorists who run red lights, these cameras would record those who do not yield to a school bus stop sign.

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Drivers often refuse to yield

Drivers refusing to yield to school buses is a problem nationwide. Rock Gresham, transportation director for the Cobb County school district in Georgia, told reporters that over a thousand cars daily pass his district’s buses while the sign is out. The state of Maryland reported more than 7,000 similar occurrences in one day last year.

A Connecticut community

In the Connecticut community of Southington, the school district has struck a deal with Arizona-based Redflux to mount its cameras on several buses. The district pays a fee for each camera. The cameras record a continuous feed of traffic images in both directions. Those images are fed live to Redflux, whose employees examine the footage and send images of and information about violators to the local police department. Citations are then issued. The school district receives 82 percent of the citation money and the other 18 percent goes to the local law enforcement agencies and courts.

Joseph V. Erardi Jr, a school superintendent in Southington, Conn., said:

“I see this as another opportunity to keep students safer than the day before.”

Americans support move, study says

A recent Harris study showed that 77 percent of those surveyed supported the use of bus-mounted traffic cameras as a way of protecting the safety of school children. The poll was conducted at the request of ACS, a Xerox company.

Mark Talbot of ACS said:

“Bus drivers transport life’s most precious cargo: our children. A driver’s focus cannot simultaneously be on protecting a student from an illegally passing vehicle and capturing the license plate information of the offending vehicle. This survey highlights the public’s overwhelming support for safety innovation such as school bus cameras to help improve student safety.”

ACS has a stake in the results of the survey. The company makes its own traffic-monitoring camera system called CrossSafe.


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