Houston commissioners OK bus camera agreement

wcrenshaw@macon.comDecember 18, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- The Houston County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved an agreement that paves the way for installation of school bus cameras to catch drivers who ignore bus stop signals.

The agreement sets a schedule for distribution of the fine money between the county and American Traffic Solutions. The company will install and manage the cameras at no cost, as well issue the tickets. The Houston County Sheriff’s Department will approve the citations based on the camera footage.

Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker said the county gets 25 percent of the fine money the first year, with American Traffic Solutions getting the rest.

Each year the county will get a higher percentage until the fifth year, when the county will get all of the fine money.

School board attorney Billy Jerles told the commissioners the cameras will be operating in select buses by early January.

He said the cameras are much needed because too many motorists pass school buses when the stop sign is out and children are loading or unloading.

“There have been some very close calls where injury was narrowly missed,” Jerles said.

Stalnaker said the cameras are being installed to curb a serious problem, not to generate revenue.

“The thing is, we don’t want to lose a child,” he said.

Jerles said he expects installation to begin soon and the cameras could be working by the time school resumes after the New Year’s.

The fines will be treated as a civil matter, so violations would not count against a driver’s record. The fine for a first offense is a maximum of $300 and could get as high as $1,000 for repeat offenders.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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