Albemarle Schools Discuss School Bus Cameras

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Dozens of people in Albemarle County are illegally driving their vehicles around school buses - according to what cameras on two buses showed in a pilot study conducted by the schools.

Most drivers know traffic laws require they stop for buses letting children on and off, but that doesn't appear to be slowing them down.

It is up to school bus drivers to keep a record of violators - but there were so many, the schools decided to conduct a study.  It showed more than 80 drivers in a 30-day period passed two buses unloading or loading children.  

As a result, the county school system wants to begin a county-wide camera mounting program. New cameras mounted on the front and back of one side of every school bus are part of the new proposal.

"Once those units capture an image they transmit it to a data center where someone is watching a bank of televisions and they note the violation and then send it to the police department to be certified," said William Deane, executive director of planning and technology for Albemarle County Public Schools.

Deane says the emphasis here is on the children's safety - although the program would generate some money through fines. The county says a third of the fines generated will go back to the county and two thirds to the private company overseeing the program.

"Obviously there are fines associated with the process but that's not our intent , to you know, raise money," said Deane.

At this point, it is unclear what the county would do with the money. Some are also concerned about filming children, but Deane says the kids don't have to be on camera to be watched.

"Anyone who drives down the street between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. can see children boarding school buses," said Deane.

The plan is not set in stone and members of the public are invited to comment at the next school board meeting on June 13.

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