Cameras Set To Rake In $360 Per Citation; School Buses Being Equipped PDF Print E-mail
News - Local News
Friday, 29 September 2017 08:38
A new camera system being installed on Chattooga County buses will begin recording motorists who illegally pass a stopped bus unloading children, according to school system Director of Transportation Mike Jarrett.
Those violators may receive a $360 traffic citation in the mail.
The school installed the cameras in response to complaints by bus drivers that motorists are not stopping for children getting off buses. The school hopes to have the system operational by Oct. 10.
“When we get ready to let students off a bus, we turn on the stop lights about 200 feet before we get to the stop,” Jarrett said.
He said that sometimes they are not able to if they have stops that are real close together, around 100 feet or so.
“We have a problem with people running our stop signs on buses,” Jarrett said. “We have known it and we have tried to stop it.”
Jarrett said he has talked about the problem with the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Department and the Georgia State Patrol.
“The sheriff has been a big help and the state patrol has been a big help but they don’t have the man force to follow every bus around and be able to help constantly,” Jarrett continued.
Instead of relying on exclusively on law enforcement personnel, the school system discovered the camera system as a way to help.
“The cameras we have put on the buses from Gatekeeper, we have run them now for four weeks on one school bus and averaged 41 violations a week,” he said. “That’s ridiculous and shows the kind of problem we have.”
The system hates to go this way with the cameras and fines, but they have to get the peoples’ attention, Jarrett added.
“We cannot sit back and not do anything,” Jarrett said.
Four cameras are on the side of the buses, two facing the front and two facing the rear with infrared where the pictures can be taken at night and the tags are very clear.
A camera is also mounted on the top of the bus at the back that gives a view of the whole side of the bus and lets the system know for sure that the stop sign is out and it records everything that is going on around the bus on that side, Jarrett explained.
“We will take the hard drives two or three days a week and look at the hard drives for the violations,” Jarrett added. “With those violations we will look and make sure they are violations.”
The system has been looking at the hard drives from the one bus using the cameras at that time and checking how it works.
“We want to know for sure the car has gone through before we turn it in,” he added.
The system will analyze the tape, make a video clip and pictures and then send them to the sheriff. They will look at them and verify that it is a violation and they will send it on to Gatekeeper Company and they will issue a citation to the offender.
“We cannot sit here and wait until a child gets run over,” Jarrett said. “We have to teach people when they have to stop.”
He said that most of the problems occur on the four lanes on Ga. 114 and U.S. 27 up to Mountain View. On those roadways, all four lanes have to stop when the bus stops. On the roads north of Mountain View intersection and south of Gore the lanes going the same way as the bus have to stop and the other lanes have to be careful.
“We also have problems on two-lane roads,” Jarrett said.
“The reason we have gone to this is for safety,” School Superintendent Jimmy Lenderman said. “We are going to start writing tickets on people who do not stop for this stop sign before we lose a child. We have had to go to this because there are some people who think their time is more important than protecting a child.”
“The way we are going without the cameras, it is just a matter of time before we have a child run over,” Jarrett said. “The cameras will not stop it all but I think that once we start issuing tickets and the word gets around, I think we will start seeing the problem go down.”
The cameras were put on the buses at no cost from Gatekeeper.
“Gatekeeper generates the money from the tickets,” Jarrett explained. “We split the money. We get a percentage; the sheriff’s office will get a percentage.”
Jarrett said the system was not interested in the money and he knew that the sheriff was not interested in the money.
“The law that allows us to cite violators using the cameras will cite the registered owner of the vehicle,” Sheriff Schrader said. “If you are a parent and you have children that are driving your vehicles, urge them to be aware of this. The cameras are taking a picture of the license plate, so the citation will be issued to the registered owner of the vehicle under the code section that we are using.”

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