REDFLEX: School bus camera program changing driver behavior
By DANIEL PARKER
Jul 20, 2017, 10:57
PRINCE GEORGE – The wheels on the bus go round and round, but drivers going through Prince George don’t seem to care as suggested by Redflex’s Student Guardian Technology issuing 558 citations over the past four years.
In 2014, Prince George County introduced the Student Guardian program arming its buses with camera’s to catch people passing buses while they are stopped with their red lights flashing while picking up and dropping off students. The camera turns on when the bus’ stop-arm moves out and the red lights flash indicating when children are being loaded and unloaded. The vehicles are identified and the violator’s information is sent to the police department that distribute tickets to the offenders.
Passing a bus when its stop arm is out is a $250 fine in the state of Virginia and with 558 incidents in four years recorded the total amount of dollars from the monitoring program came out to $88,697. The fine isn’t always a flat fee and some tickets that came in were reduced.
In the 2015 school year, the program processed 537 incidents and Prince George Police issued 240 tickets. This school year, the program recorded 277 incidents, and police issued 129 tickets.
A trend that Sheri Lewis, Client Services Specialist for Redflex, noted showed that the program was working.
“If you look at year four the numbers are diminishing, which is the goal – you get that awareness out there and you start to change that driving behavior,” said Lewis.
Currently, six Prince George buses are equipped with the cameras.
Where do the most violations occur? Where officials expected. Most buses are passed illegally on County Drive and Courthouse Road. The School Board discussed implementing the program further to put cameras on buses that travel through the back roads, as well.
“If it’s happening on the main roads,” said School Board Member Robert Cox, Jr., “it’s happening on the back roads.”
Prince George County schools received $24,302 from the fines and put that money back into transportation for the cost of bus maintenance and replacement.
Although instances have decreased, Lewis noted that citations for people passing buses will probably never end.
“Will there ever be no citations? Probably not. Distracted driving is increasing all over the country,” she commented. “But, I feel it’s making a difference and starting to change the behavior of drivers, and in turn making it safer for children in the county.”