New cameras aim to improve school bus safety


CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Cullman County School leaders hope a new plan will improve safety for children getting on and off the school bus this year.

New cameras were just placed on the outside of every bus to deter drivers from illegally passing and endangering lives.

It works similar to a red light camera, capturing the tag number of a vehicle that passes. The stop arm must be out and the red lights flashing, according to the Transportation Director for Cullman County Schools.

“We’ve got 107 buses that drive 4400 miles a day and pick up right at 5,000 kids,” said Jeff Harper with Cullman County Schools.

Harper told CBS 42 that more vehicles are illegally passing stopped school buses, with more than 1,800 instances reported across the state last school year.

“1862 passings is 1862 opportunities for a child to be struck by an automobile,” said Harper.

According to Harper, the statewide numbers have climbed. While 20 news buses with the cameras were atop Harper’s wish list before this school year, the school board decided to give the drivers of all 107 buses an extra eye for safety.

“The first offense is 300 dollars,” said Harper.

A photo of the violator’s tag is sent to the sheriff’s office for a summons and a fine. Harper said the owner of the vehicle can dispute the ticket if he or she can prove someone else was driving.

“I think it’s very good out there to catch some of these folks. I hate to say it, but these folks right here have gotten to where they don’t care enough about the kids and the school buses,” said Bruce Barrett, who lives in the area.

Harper explained a new law allows for school districts to collect images from cameras to aid in prosecution. School starts in Cullman County next week, and it’s the drivers who will be tested first.

“It’s not getting better, it’s getting worse. We have got to do something to protect the children,” said Harper.

The first day of classes in Cullman County is Wednesday August, 9.

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