Just two weeks into the rollout of a new bus stop-arm camera program aimed at stopping vehicles from illegally passing school buses, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office is already reporting dozens of violations have been recorded.
According to Cpl. Doug Rainwater, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, four deputies responsible for monitoring video footage from the 30 bus cameras each day were trained on how to use the system Tuesday and began seeing violations in almost real time.
Rainwater said that on Tuesday deputies found 26 vehicles had illegally passed school buses when its stop arm was extended and students were either exiting or entering the bus.
He added that the 26 instances were just the violations found from one day of viewing from two weeks of the program, and that even though they aren’t sure yet how many total violations occurred in the previous two weeks, each of the 26 violators from Tuesday will be receiving a citation in the mail.
“This is moving forward. It is not a warning or a grace period,” he said.
Rainwater said that deputies will be viewing every video that the cameras send them to determine what videos are of real violations and what aren’t.
He said that they also take into consideration how much time cars have to stop when the stop arm activates.
“This isn’t a situation where the arm goes out, the car is half way past the school bus and gets a ticket because it didn’t have a chance to stop,” Rainwater said. “They are verifying that a reasonable person, if they were paying attention, would have been able to stop their car safely.”
In each of the 26 violations recorded by deputies Tuesday, Rainwater said that it was obvious that the cars had time to stop but chose not to.
“These are clear-cut violations, where if anyone looks at this video they will see that the person had time to stop,” Rainwater said.
He said that an added benefit of the system is that all footage of a violation is saved as evidence until the case is dealt with in court.
The bus stop-arm camera program was put forward and agreed to by the Forsyth County Board of Education and Forsyth County Board of Commissioners earlier this year as a joint effort between the sheriff’s office and the school system.
In December, when the idea was initially presented to the Forsyth County Board of Education, Mike Satterfield, director of transportation for Forsyth County Schools, told the FCN that the new cameras will potentially generate revenues of as high as $1,000 per violation in the future and will cost the county nothing.
Currently the system has 30 buses with the cameras. Satterfield said that the results of this initial rollout will determine how many more buses are fitted with the technology.
“Depending on the number of violations that are issued and that the sheriff’s office determines are violations, that’s going to drive how many more cameras we get in our bus fleet,” Satterfield said.