First cameras installed on Houston buses, violators to be fined beginning in late March

jmink@macon.comMarch 6, 2013 

Houston County school buses are one step closer to photographing stop arm violators after installing camera systems on five buses.

Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions is testing the cameras, and violators are expected to be officially recorded and punished at the end of this month, said Frank Scott, district transportation director.

A total of 20 buses with the busiest routes will be equipped with the cameras. Scott is not yet sure when the rest of the systems will be installed. For now, school officials are waiting for information about how well the initial five cameras work.

“There’s a lot of pieces to the puzzle,” he said.

The project is a collaboration among American Traffic Solutions, which is covering installation and maintenance costs, the school district and the Houston County Sheriff’s Office. All three will split revenue from violator fees. It’s a move that hopefully will improve school bus safety for students as they enter and exit the buses, school officials say.

“Our goal is to educate and alert drivers to the dangers of illegally passing school buses,” school board Chairwoman Marianne Melnick said in a news release. “Keeping our children safe is our number one priority.”

In 2011, drivers in Houston County ran bus stop arms about 36 times a day. By 2012, that number increased to 86 times a day. Georgia leads the nation in child deaths that occur outside the school bus, according to a news release. The statistics were gathered from a survey, which asked bus drivers to record each time someone violated the stop arm.

School bus drivers do not have any interaction with the cameras, but they are able to see the equipment on the outside of the bus, Scott said.

Once officially operational, the cameras will activate when a vehicle violates the stop arm, snapping a photograph of the license plate. American Traffic Solutions will then review the footage and submit apparent violations to the sheriff’s office, which will fine violators. Running a school bus stop arm is a civil violation with fines ranging from $300 to $1,000, according to the news release.

As workers prepare the systems to officially begin snapping violators, a video has been created to educate the public about the cameras. The video may be viewed on the school district’s website at

“Hopefully (drivers) will start obeying the law,” Scott said, “and kids can get on the bus and off the bus in a safer manner.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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