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Agreement promotes school bus rider safety

Clayton County Public Schools is partnering with American Traffic Solutions to deploy CrossingGuard photo enforcement. School buses are being equipped with video cameras to catch drivers who illegally pass stopped buses when they loading and unloading students. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

Clayton County Public Schools is partnering with American Traffic Solutions to deploy CrossingGuard photo enforcement. School buses are being equipped with video cameras to catch drivers who illegally pass stopped buses when they loading and unloading students. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

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School officials are urging motorists to be extra cautious when school starts back up next week. Thousands of students are expected to be out walking or being transported by bus to their schools. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

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Motorists are asked to look out for pedestrians and be especially cautious at school bus stops, which have been vacant during Clayton County Public Schools’ winter break. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

JONESBORO — Clayton County Public Schools is partnering with American Traffic Solutions to deploy CrossingGuard photo enforcement.

CrossingGuard is ATS’ newest technology to help school districts address the growing problem of motorists illegal passing of school buses that are stopped and boarding or disembarking children.

Transportation Director Harold Walker pointed to state legislation passed in 2011 to permit school districts to equip school buses with video cameras to catch drivers who illegally drive by school buses when they stop to pick up or drop off students.

“The CrossingGuard school bus arm safety solution has been installed on 20 school buses,” said Walker. “By school year’s end, that number will be doubled.”

He said the CrossingGuard school bus arm safety solution mounts cameras and sensors on the side of the school bus. When the stop arm is deployed, the sensors automatically detect a vehicle illegally passing the stop arm in either direction capturing video of the violation and the vehicle’s license plate.

Video of violators in the act will be reviewed by the Clayton County Police Department for approval before a citation is issued, he added.

Walker said the system went live just before the winter break and is capturing more than 20 violations per day.

“Our goal is to educate and awaken drivers to the dangers of illegally passing school buses,” he said. “This program is designed to teach drivers the school bus stop arm laws and change their behaviors in a positive way to protect the lives of the children who ride a school bus to and from school every day.”

Clayton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Turner was pleased with the addition.

“We are excited about this collaboration involving the Clayton County, Clayton County Schools and American TrafficSolutions,” said Turner. “This new technology will, no doubt, enhance the safety of our highways by protecting all of us (and) most importantly our most valued resource, our children.”

Walker said under state law, the only time a driver approaching a stopped school bus can drive past without violating the law, is when there is a median or physical barrier separating the lanes of travel.

In Georgia, the penalty for the first stop-arm violation will warrant the vehicle’s owner a $300 fine, a $750 fine for the second violation, and a third violation in a five-year period will result in a $1,000 fine.

Superintendent Luvenia Jackson said creating more cautious drivers is worth the effort.

“If one student’s life is spared through this deterrent, then this collaborative effort will be considered a rousing success,” said Jackson. “I thank everyone involved who made this project possible.”