Bus Cameras — Progress, but illegal passing still a cause for concern
February 28, 2013 12:00 AM | 2894 views | 6 6 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cobb police say that the hidden cameras installed on the sides of county school buses are helping keep students safe.

That assessment is based on the results of a one-day test in January during which district bus drivers kept track of the number of times other drivers illegally passed their buses as they were stopped. There were 400 such incidents in January, less than half the number counted during a similar one-day test last year. And it was only about a fourth of the 1,600 violations reported during the first such test back in 2011. That’s the good news.

“I would say it’s brought into the bright light the concern for stopping for school buses,” Lt. Hawk Hagebak of the Cobb Police Department’s Traffic Services Unit said of the cameras. “Driving down the road, you don’t know if the bus has a camera or not.”

About 1 of every 12 of the Cobb district’s 1,202 buses is equipped with the cameras, which were first installed back in 2010 at the cost of $200 each. It was a worthy investment aimed a reducing the likelihood of children being mowed down by speeding, careless drivers. And anyone who has ever spent much time in a school zone knows there are always a few such drivers.

The buses initially were equipped with one camera each.

Then Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions paid to have six more cameras installed on the buses last year. One of the cameras is pointed toward the front wheels of the bus and another toward the rear ones, recording possible violations on video. Meanwhile, a large yellow box containing five other cameras is situated in the middle of the bus to snap pictures of the license plates of lawbreakers.

As for the fines involved, $134,059 has been raised thus far from the 1,092 citations issues. Violators pay $300 for a first offense, $750 for a second and $1,000 for each additional violation for five years. It would seem a better solution would be to take away the licenses of repeat violators.

The bulk of the revenue from the fines — 75 percent during the program’s first year, and less thereafter — was kept by ATS, with the remainder split between the county government and the school district.

ATS is looking at various other bus routes to see if more cameras need to be added to buses, and on which routes. One would think that they should be on all school buses, not just a select few as at present. But that would involve a substantial cost, no doubt.

It appears that, based on the declining number of violations recorded, that many local drivers are starting to “get the message,” i.e., that local school buses are camera-equipped and cannot be passed with impunity, as was the case for so long for so many callous motorists.

Now here’s the bad news: What’s frightening is what last month’s study also showed — that each of the 102 camera-equipped buses was passed illegally an average of four times on the day in question. Multiply that figure by 12, and then multiply the sum of those numbers by the number of school days.

It’s another tragedy waiting to happen — and another argument both for increasing the number of cameras on school buses, and for more rigorous patrolling in school zones by Cobb police.
Comments
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VFP42
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March 01, 2013
Are we really falling for this?

These cameras are controlled directly by people, the bus drivers, paid by the County that receives the revenue generated by said cameras.

How is the bus driver bonus program coming along for drivers who generate the most revenue from their camera by milking the drivers into gettings tickets via keeping the bus stationary for a very long period after closing the door? Or how about the bus driver who figures out stop without flipping out the Stop sign, sit there for a while, look in the mirror until a car is coming, then flip out stop sign when it's too late for the driver to stop! Ticket! Revenue! Bonus for the bus driver!!!

How is the rerouting coming along for adding extra stops and thus more revenure opportunities?

How is the profit sharing going with the bait? Wait did I say bait? I mean the children. How much of the revenue will the children see from this program? I am betting it's zero, even though the children are the bait!
Ricky G.
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March 01, 2013
Great job criticizing something you know nothing about.
Safe Stops?
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February 28, 2013
How many of these violations are on 3 or 4 lane roads where buses should not be picking children up?

Move these bus stops into neighborhoods and subdivisions if you really want to keep the children safe.
anonymous
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February 28, 2013
People regularly speed along Mars Hill Road in the school zones. They are commuting and don't feel it necessary to slow down because there are no crossing guards. But for parents trying to make the turns amid commuter traffic, it's a nightmare. I've heard the same thing about Johnson Ferry Road near Mt. Bethel Elementary. What's wrong with our educated, upper middle class commuters? Have they forgotten what's important? There is no excuse. Please think about this and talk to your friends about it.
Readmopaper
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February 28, 2013
Mt. Bethel Elementary is adjacent to Johnson Ferry but not ON Johnson Ferry Rd. I've lived in the area for many years and I've NEVER seen a child headed to or from school on Johnson Ferry Rd. The school cannot be seen from Johnson Ferry Rd. Only this week has a sign been installed that is visible from J-F Rd. and it has advertising on it, making it easy to miss the school name. The only clue otherwise are the flashing school zone signs which probably meet the legal requirements for a school zone but are easily overlooked in a very heavily developed commercial area where there is an abundance of visual clutter. Posting a school zone where there is no school to be seen may have the unfortunate effect of encouraging people to overlook school zone signs elsewhere.
Following Too Close
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February 28, 2013
And yet EVERY school day, EVERY bus in Cobb county is tailgated and we do nothing to deter it. No police enforcement, no signage on the back of the buses to STAY BACK X number of feet. More accidents waiting to happen.
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