It’s a shame that the idea even has to be considered -- that a county school system would have to think about entering into an agreement with American Traffic Solutions to place cameras on school buses -- not to record student behavior, but to monitor compliance with a law every driver should blindly obey. Yes, these cameras would be placed to detect and fine those drivers who pass school buses illegally.
The company is willing to install the cameras on only 20 of the systems 237 buses. The fines would be split three ways, between the company, the sheriff’s office and school system. Fines could reach $1,000 each. Quite a hefty sum for violating a law that is so easy to obey. It’s also a testament to a business plan based on the habits of bad drivers -- and apparently those drivers don’t all reside in Houston County.
Carroll County Schools and Cobb County have already approved the cameras and an ATS representative said Newton County, Muscogee County and the city of Carrollton already have the cameras.
Localities have tried traffic signal cameras to catch motorists running red lights. Many have stopped the practice because the companies monitoring the cameras have rigged the game for higher profits. The school bus cameras, however, are different. There’s no fudge factor. When the stop arm extends from the bus -- after bright flashing lights and a visible stop sign appear -- there’s no wiggle room. Cars either stop or they don’t.
You would think drivers would be smarter than to pass a stopped school bus, but in two, one- day surveys over the past two school years 122 drivers have ignored the warnings. Maybe they really aren’t smarter than sixth-graders? The system, before employing the cameras, if approved, should make a big splash so everyone is aware of the law and how to obey it.
Maybe this system will act as a deterrent. If the school system and the sheriff’s department monitor ATS to be sure the data is accurate, maybe, families will be spared the grief of having their child hit just because a driver was more concerned about a small delay than the life of a child.
-- The Editorial Board