School officials still having issues with bus stop cameras
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mjdjonline.com
September 07, 2011 01:07 AM | 4600 views | 15 15 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Cobb school officials are still working with the county solicitor general and Cobb County attorneys to figure out how to cite drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus under a new law.

Additionally, the district is struggling with technological problems with newly installed bus stop arm cameras and recording equipment.

“Everyone is trying to figure out how to do this,” said Rick Grisham, the district’s transportation director. “We’ve been a lot more aggressive. Cobb County is probably one of the first to take a stand on getting this cut down and hopefully be a leader on this.”

In August, the Cobb County School District installed 102 cameras on school buses to capture video of drivers passing a school bus while the stop arm is down under the new law.

James Arrowood, the district’s director of public safety, said he is working with county and district attorneys to figure out how violations will be processed at the Cobb County Solicitor General’s office. Solicitor General Barry Morgan said the new law does not give his office the authority to handle the cases, so the school system must work out the issue of who handles the cases with the county government first.

“Right now, we’re having to make sure we’re following the proper procedures,” Arrowood said. “We’re moving with the deliberate speed. Anytime you’re dealing with laws and legalities, you like to have it all ironed out and make sure you proceed correctly before you do stuff, so we have to be patient.”

Chris Ragsdale, the district’s technology director, said bus drivers were required to fill out a detailed form to send to the county police department under the “old process” of citing drivers violating the stop arm law. Under the new process, videos taken by the new cameras would be submitted rather than the time-consuming forms, Ragsdale said.

Arrowood said he anticipates the procedures to be ironed out by January.

Technological issues have also arisen with the cameras.

Ragsdale said the cameras were installed at an angle that did not allow them to capture drivers’ license plate numbers. Ragsdale said they have adjusted the cameras on the buses to capture license plates better and improve the range. Initially, the cameras could not capture the license plates on vehicles two lanes away.

Ragsdale also said field techs have to board each bus to remove the bus’ hard drive to retrieve the data.

“We’ve asked the company (AngelTrax out of Dothan, Ala.) to make a modification so that they can electronically deliver the information from the camera to the computer without having to physically remove data from the bus’ hard drive,” Ragsdale said. “We should be able to pilot that new transmittal method sometime this October. There are no additional fees with that.”

Sheri Lewis, one of two mothers who helped get the ball rolling on the Stop Arm Camera law in 2010, said she still sees people illegally pass school buses in her Cobb neighborhood.

“Four out of five days the first week of school, they passed the stop arm,” Lewis said Tuesday. “(The driver) now has the camera and this morning and afternoon, they still passed her bus. She’s still able to document this and turn these people in, which makes me feel a little better. It’s just terrifying.”

“Unfortunately, there isn’t enough law enforcement to be at every (school bus) stop,” she said. “So hopefully the camera can be their eyes and help them stop this.”

On July 1, a new section of Senate Bill 57, also called the Stop Arm Camera Law, went into effect, allowing school districts to install cameras on buses’ stop arms.

The stop arm cameras cost approximately $200 each and were purchased with SPLOST III funds. Grisham said he would consider ways to purchase additional cameras once they have worked out negotiations with the county, adding that he would like to see cameras installed on at least half of the district’s fleet within the next three years.

The Cobb County School District currently runs 1,188 buses throughout the county, commuting students to and from their destinations. A new bus with a stop arm camera installed costs approximately $81,600.

Grisham said 14 violations have been turned in to the Cobb County Police Department this school year. In previous years, drivers reported an average of one or two violations per day, Grisham said.

If found guilty of violating the school bus law, a driver can face up to $1,000 in fines and receive six points on their license. Anyone under 21 would automatically lose their license.
Comments
(15)
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anonymous
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September 08, 2011
Leave it to CCSD to buy all the equipment install it and then not know what to do with it.

This isn't a kink, this is CCSD using our tax $$'s without having a plan. - it happens all the time at the schools.

Buying projectors with $500 light bulbs and not having a budget to replace them.

I'm with you East Cobber, happens way too much here
homeschoolingmom
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September 07, 2011
The easiest and cheapest way to solve this problem is to make everyone re-take the drivers test at renewal. So many mistakes can be avoided if folks had to stay informed of the current laws in order to keep driving.

Key Questions-

1. Stopping for a school bus at the blinking yellow lights ->before the arm and red lights YIPPIE!

2. The inside left lane is for passing. If you see folks passing on your right and no one is in front of you, GET OVER into the correct lane.

3. Pedestrians (those folks walking) have the right away and if they are in a cross walk you must by law STOP. Not honk your horn while shouting choice words (yea, you are the idot calling attention to your stupidity)

5. Neighborhood and school zone speed limits.

6. Passing a bicyclist (move over giving 3 feet clearance)

Just a thought and CCSD of all should know that education is the best preventative medicine. But then again, why do I homeschool?
bus driver
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September 07, 2011
If you were to sit there with your yellow light wait for all cars to stop you would be there all day. Problems solved would be for drivers to obey the traffic laws around school buses. Yellow means I am about to stop. So slow down and don't speed up triing to beat the bus. Red means stop!!!!!
legal fees...
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September 07, 2011
How much do you want to bet that all of these tickets will end up in court costing Cobb County millions in legal fees before this whole thing is shut down? Would you pay $800 and get 8 points on your license if you weren't driving, and the only evidence is a blurry picture of your license plate? I highly doubt the revolving door of bus drivers will receive proper training on how to use the Angletrax system so expect challenges in court. DUI's and speeding tickets are thrown out all the time due to lack of officer training, and in those cases the officer needs to show up at trial. Will the bus drivers need to show up to trial as well? I would love to know how much Angeltrax gets for each ticket. There are countless stories of red light camera companies making more money than the cities they serve. The lack of information speaks volumes for these bus cameras, and this smells like another fine mess thanks to our 'leaders' in Cobb County.
Know-All
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September 07, 2011
The door, flashing lights, and stop arm are all connected so long as the lights button is pushed. The stop arm cannot be extended/retracted at will; it operates only if the lights have been activated. Therefore, FROM TEXAS, the driver wouldn't drive off with the stop arm still out.
YIPPIE
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September 07, 2011
QUIT FLIPPING THE STOP SIGN JUST AS SOMEONE IS ABOUT TO PASS. QUIT STOPPING AT EACH KIDS FRONT DOOR. DON'T OPEN THE BUS DOOR UNTIL YOU SEE THE CARS ARE STOPPED, PROBLEM SOLVED!
Bob Bummer
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September 07, 2011
No you cannot borrow my car not because I am a jerk but because it gets a ticket every time I loan it out to anyone.
Look both ways!
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September 07, 2011
Seems like CCSD has a bigger problem...getting children dropped off at their right destinations...interesting how this story of a child being dropped at a wrong location and not returned to the school made it to the evening news with Jay Dillon's deer-in-headlights- "I don't know??"-look on his face, but it never made it to the press.... I guess the CCSD wants everyone to look the other way when it pertains to their lack of accountability for getting children home safely...
East Cobber
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September 07, 2011
@ West Cobber if you follow the history of this director he has not planned very well for alot of issues at the bus depot.

If you do not test the product and work out the bugs you do not go live with it. Why waste our school system time and money if does not work.

Once again poor planning leads to poor performance.
Not well thought out
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September 07, 2011
I am kind of wondering why the School system should receive any money from drivers breaking the law. If I post a camera in front of my yard and get a record of speeding do I get part of the money???

Just Wait
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September 07, 2011
These are just like the red light cameras. Unless they photograph the driver, how can they prove who was driving the car? You can't ticket a car, only the driver.
anonymous
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September 07, 2011
Be sure the waring is in Spanish so the illegals can read it too
West Cobber
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September 07, 2011
@ East Cobber-

Are you really that stupid? There are ALWAYS things you have to work out with any new system you install. I don't know what side of the bed you woke up on but you might want to go try again........ Just a plan stupid comment!
FROM TEXAS
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September 07, 2011
Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be on the bleeding edge of technology. Does the camera turn off then the stop sign is moved into the bus, does the bus still run if bus driver leaves the stop arm extended and drives off with stop arm extended. None of these questions are answered in this article seems to be mostly revenue driven to me. I would like to see an advertisement on the back of the bus that states “$1,000.00 to pass illegally in bold letters”!! Nothing wrong with this if you’ve worked it out ahead of time but the school board seems to always get cart before the horse in Cobb county.
East Cobber
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September 07, 2011
Poor Planning leads to Poor Performace. The Cobb School Bus Director needs to go.
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