Cameras on the outside of buses catch passing drivers - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Cameras on the outside of buses catch passing drivers

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By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Flashing lights, reflectors, and stop signs are all standard features on school buses.  Each element is designed to let drivers know a bus is stopping and children will be crossing.  Many drivers do not heed the warning.  To help encourage people to stop some school buses in Paragould are now equipped with cameras on the outside catching drivers as they pass by.

"We've had a couple trouble spots with cars going around stopped school buses," said Richard Shelby, Deputy Superintendent for the Paragould School District.

One trouble spot is Baldwin Elementary before and after school.  In fact on Friday afternoon we caught a car as it went past a school bus with the stop arm out.

"When those arms are out all traffic forward and backward must stop by state law," said Shelby.

Shelby said each of their 30 school buses have at least three cameras installed if not more.  A few of the buses have an extra camera that will make a big difference.

"Those cameras have the capability on the outside of getting license plate numbers, which we're required by law to turn those instances in to police," said Shelby.

It may look like just another piece of the bus but a yellow bump on the side is actually a video camera.  The cameras have only been in place for a few weeks and they already have footage of drivers passing buses!

"You've got a photograph of a license plate that actually proves that car did do that so that in itself is pretty strong," said Shelby.

While they do get the information, that is not the primary reason for the outside cameras.

"You can't get a life back so we've got to do whatever we can to prevent these types of dangerous situations," said Shelby.

When a child goes to get on or off a school bus watching for traffic is not their number one priority.

In many cases they're running for their target:  be it the bus or a parent waiting for them.

"The life of a child is just too important to lose," said Shelby.

Shelby said he doesn't believe people are passing buses to be malicious. 

"It's a combination of people are busy they're trying to get where they're going or they're not aware of the law," said Shelby.

There is a pilot program in the state through the state highway and transportation department to install cameras on the outside of buses.  Paragould is not part of the program.  They are using stimulus money to pay for all the cameras at around $100,000.

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