Patch Staff Report
Data released on Monday from Bartow County Schools shows over 500 drivers were issued violations during the 2013-14 school year for illegally passing a school bus.
Violations were issued as part of the Bartow County Student Guardian® program, a safety camera system monitoring and detecting drivers who illegally pass school buses, endangering the lives of children as they enter and exit the bus.
During the school year, 547 tickets were issued for illegally passing a school bus while the stop arm was extended and amber lights were flashing.
In Georgia, if a law enforcement official cites a driver for illegally passing a school bus, the fine is up to $1,000, a mandatory court appearance and six points on the driver’s license. Drivers cited through the program will face a $300 fine for the first offense, $750 for the second offense and $1000 for the third offense within five years.
“The ultimate goal of this program is to improve student safety around school bus stops,” said Jody Elrod, director of transportation for Bartow County Schools. “Our enforcement efforts are catching violators, and hopefully changing the way they drive around school buses. The goal is to encourage drivers to think twice when approaching a school bus in the future and act more cautiously in the presence of children.”
Bartow County was among the first counties in Georgia to approve the use of stop arm enforcement. Currently, 15 buses are installed with Student Guardian. Officials will evaluate data from the school year to determine whether additional high-risk routes should be outfitted with the system in the future.
The Student Guardian safety camera system is installed on the driver’s side of a school bus. It monitors traffic while the bus’ stop arm and amber lights are displayed, leaving the bus driver free to focus on students. Evidence of violations, including video and photos, is submitted to local law enforcement to determine whether a citation is warranted.
Student Guardian has been developed by Redflex Traffic Systems®, Inc., a leading provider of road safety technologies and photo enforcement solutions throughout North America.
Bartow County Schools reached an agreement with Redflex to operate the Student Guardian program without any upfront costs to the district or county. The program is fully funded by violations.