Atlanta schools installing school bus stop-arm cameras


Atlanta Public Schools is the latest school district to install cameras on school buses to catch drivers who break the law by passing stopped buses.

Gwinnett County, Cobb County, Clayton County, Decatur and Marietta are among the districts already using similar technology. All but Gwinnett contract with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions. Fulton County schools are also planning to install cameras on some buses.

“This program will operate just like others in the area with the expectation that they’ll achieve the same reductions in school bus stop-arm running as have been seen in neighboring communities,” ATS spokesman Charles Territo said of the Atlanta program.

ATS will mount cameras on the side of Atlanta school buses — about 20 to start, Territo said. When a bus stop arm is deployed, the camera will automatically detect vehicles passing the stop arm and capture video and still images. The Atlanta Police Department will review potential violations before issuing tickets.

Fines are $300 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for the third offense in five years. Initially, the Atlanta Police Department will issue warnings instead of tickets.

Arizona-based ATS will receive 60 percent of ticket revenue, the city of Atlanta 26.6 percent and the school district 13.4 percent, according to district records.

State law requires motorists traveling in both directions to stop for school buses that are loading and unloading (lights flashing and stop arm extended), unless the road is divided by a median. If there is a median, the vehicles traveling in the opposite direction of the bus aren’t required to stop.

After 5-year-old Karla Campos was hit and killed as she stepped off her school bus in Cobb County in 2009, parents lobbied lawmakers to allow video cameras to catch violators. Georgia changed state law in 2011 to allow it. State lawmakers have since updated the 2011 law to allow school districts or outside vendors to issue violations.

Cobb County was one of the first and largest Georgia districts to use the school bus cameras in 2012.

Since installing the cameras, Cobb has seen the number of drivers illegally passing stopped school buses drop significantly, Cobb transportation director Rick Grisham said. In May of this year, about 876 citations were issued. That works out to less than one violation per bus per day, he said.

About 2 percent of drivers receiving citations in Cobb are repeat offenders.

Like Atlanta Public Schools, the Cobb schools split revenue from the bus cameras with ATS and local government. Cobb spends its cut on safety programs and equipment, Grisham said.

“Our focus is on education and awareness,” Grisham said.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Education

Georgia senate committee removes fines, explusions from campus speech bill
Georgia senate committee removes fines, explusions from campus speech bill

The Georgia senate’s higher education committee voted Tuesday to remove provisions from a bill that would impose fines and penalties as severe as expulsion for student protesters who repeatedly stop people from speaking on Georgia's public college campuses. Senate Bill 339 would include an amendment that would have the University System...
Wakanda for a day? Area students view ‘Black Panther’ in style
Wakanda for a day? Area students view ‘Black Panther’ in style

Jay Bailey saw the Black Panther character on screen two years ago while watching “Captain America: Civil War” on a flight from California to Atlanta. The moment immediately transformed him from 40-year-old man to 12-year-old fan, he said. He wanted to give that same experience to kids once the Black Panther movie hit theaters. “I...
Will more guns and armed teachers protect students?
Will more guns and armed teachers protect students?
A friend overheard her second grader instructing playmates huddling under a climbing structure at their local playground, “You’re in lockdown. If you come out, the bad man will shoot you.” This is morning in America where parents pray their child’s school doesn’t become the next scene of a mass shooting by an angry young...
Opinion: No money for priority schools yet lawmakers find $17 million for charters
Opinion: No money for priority schools yet lawmakers find $17 million for charters
Janet Kishbaugh is co-chair of the Georgia Coalition for Public Education, formerly the Committee to Keep Georgia Schools Local. In this commentary, Kishbaugh questions the lack of adequate funding for Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature initiative, state turnaround schools. While the state says it can’t come up with more funding for turnaround...
Atlanta schools and city bringing deed fight to close
Atlanta schools and city bringing deed fight to close

The Atlanta City Council agreed Monday to transfer deeds to 31 properties to Atlanta Public Schools, bringing partial closure to a long-running dispute over who controls school sites. For several years, the school district and city have been locked in a battle over deeds to school properties the city held onto after APS legally split from the city...
More Stories