Looking for a way to replenish coffers for student transportation safety programs? Turn to the tale of the tape, the video tape, that is.
That’s what Gwinnett County Public Schools near Atlanta has done since last January, when it implemented a school bus stop-arm video enforcement project with partner Redflex Student Guardian and the local court system. And results from year one provided the district with more than $900,000, its share of the $2 million in total revenues from citations issued to motorists who illegally passed stopped school buses.
Sloan Roach, the spokeswoman for Gwinnett County Public Schools, told STN that some of the district’s money went to transportation safety programs and some to pay the salaries of district police officers who review the video footage. The certified police officers are part of the district’s Office of Safety and Security, which also includes oversight of the School Crossing Guards program.
“That’s part of our checks and balances on this,” she said. “We want to make sure that a police officer is reviewing each incident to ensure that it really is a violation. Obviously, when it goes to court, our officers have to go and back it up.”
Roach added that more than 300 Gwinnett County school buses, nearly one-sixth of the entire fleet that ranks as the largest in Georgia and 12th largest nationwide, currently have stop-arm video cameras installed. The camera-equipped school buses operate routes in each of the district’s 20 clusters that consist of one high school and its feeder elementary and middle schools. She explained that cameras are installed on buses that frequent “trouble areas” where illegal passing incidents occur most often.
From the start of the current school year in August through Dec. 31, Sloan reported that the cameras resulted in 9,500 citations being issued with a total of more than 22,000 since the start of the program a year ago.
“Our goal is that we wouldn’t need these cameras, that we’re actually be able to raise awareness and change public behavior when it comes to driving in those situations,” she said. “We’ve been very fortunate that we haven’t had a tragedy here but the numbers don’t lie. It could happen because we have a lot of violations here.”
Meanwhile, the government of Gwinnett County received about $900,000 to offset court and enforcement fees. Sloan told STN that Redlex received the balance of the remaining revenue to pay for equipment and installation on the school buses.