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Cameras aim to catch those who illegally pass school buses

SUWANEE — Following a recent school board decision, those who make the dangerous and illegal decision to pass a stopped school bus are more likely to get caught in the act.

Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, many of the district’s fleet of buses (300 of more than 1,800 total) will have a “stop arm camera” installed on the vehicle.

Approved this week by Gwinnett County Public Schools officials, it’s a measure that will go into effect when classes start in August. Since it is 100 percent violator funded, there is no cost to the taxpayer.

“The fines generate the cost of the maintenance, and (revenue) is split between the company, the police department and school district,” said Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. He said that first offenders would pay $300, second-time violators: $500; and third-time offenders $750.

“It’s a growing concern,” Wilbanks said. “It’s alarming the number of people who do it. It’s against the law, and it’s an unsafe situation.”

Chairman Carole Boyce said she hoped the measure would “improve safety all around.”

According to the website for Redflex Traffic Systems — the company that the school board decided to contract with — there are no upfront costs, and using the cameras offers the chance to “generate surplus funds.”

District spokeswoman Sloan Roach said that “while we have been very fortunate that we have not experienced a tragedy like some other districts, the issue of drivers running school bus stop arms is a problem we continue to experience in Gwinnett.”

“We feel this is a proactive step we can take to help ensure our students are delivered safely as they travel to and from school,” Roach said.

She said the district tried a pilot run last year using four buses, during which time the cameras recorded 444 violations. She added that “during that same time we received 1,903 reports of violations from drivers who were not driving buses with cameras.”

Roach said that when the bus stop arm is activated, the system automatically detects vehicles passing the stopped school bus, requiring no driver involvement. It also records a close-up of the license plate and a broader image of the violation itself.

“As the district rolls out this self-sustaining initiative, it will work to remind Gwinnett drivers of the rules regarding this issue,” she said.

According to Georgia law, vehicles traveling in both directions must stop when a school bus activates its stop arm on a two-lane road or a multi-lane road with no median or barrier. Vehicles traveling in the same direction as a school bus must always stop, but motorists traveling in the opposite direction can proceed (with caution) when there is an unpaved median or concrete barrier separating the opposing lanes.

Comments

Ed_Reese 1 year, 2 months ago

I spoke before the school board at the budget meeting in May over this subject as I live on a major road right down the road from Ivy Creek Elementary School. I complained many times to the school and principal over this last year, my son was in kindergarten, and I watched many times speeding around the school bus. My wife and I actually saw a teacher blow past the school to get to the elementary school. we actually took a picture of the car, e-mailed the principal and let her know that something needs to be done. She came back and apologized for the incident and said that we should contact the transportation department to discuss.

The school board finally for this right for the safety of the students!!!!

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dav 1 year, 2 months ago

Now if we can just get the bus drivers to stop parking in the turning lane in front of the neighborhoods before its time to pick up the children , everyone will be much safer.Do they not realize they are blocking the view coming out and going into the subdivisions?

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gwinnettresident1 1 year, 2 months ago

Where would you like for us to put the buses during this time...I tried folding it up and putting it in my pocket...I got everything in except the front lights . Just would not seem to go. If our route starts at you home and we have to go a distant away get caught in traffic and late to pick up little JOHNNY then you are mad....We cant win.

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kevin 1 year, 1 month ago

something will get done to stop this once a kid gets hit.

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

WOW... Just get a bigger POCKET!

AH ... that's a 200k consultant invoice for Mr Wilbanks and he won't bat an eye - since it has the Gwinnett Chamber logo on it...

OWS - AP Wire

Just cause it makes you cry - doesn't make it an Onion

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dav 1 year, 1 month ago

How about the nearest shopping center parking lot or would that extra 2 minute drive be "inconvenient"? They are all over the place in this county

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gwinnettresident1 1 year, 1 month ago

We dont want to park on the street....The shopping centers refuse to let us on their property saying we damage the lot with the weight of the bus. The extra time would not pis& me off but that extra layover may be 5 miles from you house...dont bit& and whine when we arent at your door on time...Take you little Jose to school. Then we will not have to start the route at your driveway. I think every child should have to go to the entrance of the complex. No matter if its one home or 500 homes...Dosent make sense to stop at every street and pick up children at fuel cost the way they are and buses getting 3 miles to a gallon...I havent had a child in school for years but i still have to pay for little Johnny to get picked up at his door...God forbide that he have to walk a hundred feet...Expecilally since mom got up late or dad and hes trying to bring his pancakes and juice to the bus to eat on the way to school....and finishing playing his game on xbox or whatever game he has...Gees people cut a little cost and let you kid go that extra 20 feet it wont kill him..If you want to be at the stop be there help yourself. I understand the need and desire these days due to the few idiots that are out there and the harm they could do to the children...You had the children be parents.

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gwinnettresident1 1 year, 1 month ago

There is nothing inconvenient about it davey boy. Its just not practical..Get into reality. You must live in the county since you made the comment...You have any idea how much traffic there is...sometimes we have 5 to 8 minutes to drop students and start the next route..give it a try and get back with me let me know the best way i will certanily make every effort to achieve you goal since ltttle dave knows best

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kevclement 1 year, 1 month ago

Please mount some of these on the special needs buses. In our neighborhood alone we had 6 reported passes of my daugters bus last school year.

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

Seriously there should be at least one of these in each school "circuit".

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

Hats off to Gwinnett County Public Schools for selecting a business partner for this project that has been banned from contracts with the City of CHICAGO due to corrupt business practices...

That takes a level of effort I seriously can't phantom...

And they wonder why there are calls for independent auditors on BOTH sides of our county government. Bonus points if the referral resulted from school funds given to the Chamber of Commerce - just about the only way this could get more interesting.

http://www.peachpundit.com/2013/08/05/gwinnett-school-board-gives-contract-to-company-with-checkered-past/#comments

"City red-light camera vendor under scrutiny Ties between ex-city official, contractor questioned; payment of $910 hotel tab also at issue"

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-chicago-red-light-cameras-1014-20121014,0,5430064.story

This free service is going to cost a "bundle" or how good concepts get fouled up.

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Mack711 1 year, 1 month ago

When you are on a 4 lane divided highway and there are apartment complexes along the road. Why can't the school buses turn into these complexes get off the main road and not stop traffic. We should require apartment complexes to have an area where the buses can turn around inside the complex. This would be a better idea than having the kids standing on the roadway like Beaver Ruin or PIB for example. This program may go the same way as R said, not sure.

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