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HOUSTON COUNTY, GA – A safety initiative to help keep school bus riders safer begins this month in Houston County.  The Houston County Board of Education, Houston County Sheriff’s Office and American Traffic Solutions (ATS) have partnered to address the growing problem of illegal passing of school buses when stopped for students to board or depart the bus.

In 2011 in Houston County, 36 motorists illegally ran bus stop arms in one day.  In 2012, the number of drivers who ignored the stop arm jumped to 86.  In addition, Georgia leads the nation in deaths of children as a result of accidents outside of the school bus according to the National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey.

To address this growing concern, cameras will be mounted on 20 select school buses to video and photograph vehicles that illegally pass the stop arm.  The camera will activate whenever a motorist runs the stop arm, capturing an image of the license plates of drivers who ignore stop arms and flashing lights.  The video and images will be reviewed by American Traffic Solutions (ATS) which will in turn submit those that appear to be violations to the Houston County Sheriff Office.  The Sheriff’s Office will then review the evidence to approve issuing citation to violators.  Infractions are a civil violation with penalties ranging from $300 to $1,000.

School Board Chairman Dr. Marianne Melnick commented, “Our goal is to educate and alert drivers to the dangers of illegally passing school buses.  Keeping our children safe is our number one priority, and we want to change driver behaviors in a positive way to protect the lives of the children who ride our buses to and from school every day.”

“We are pleased to be a part of this collaboration,” said Sheriff Cullen Talton.  “This new technology has consequences for those who break the law and jeopardize the safety of our students.”

The most common questions drivers ask about stopping for school buses are:

Q. If I’m approaching the school bus on a road with a center turning lane, do I need to stop?

  • When the school bus stops for passengers, ALL traffic from both directions must stop.

Q. If I’m driving on a four-lane road without a median separation, do I need to stop?

  • When the school bus stops for passengers, ALL traffic from both directions must stop.

Q. If I’m driving on a divided highway of four lanes or more with a median separation, do I need to stop?

  • When the school bus stops for passengers, only traffic following the bus must stop.

To educate the public about this safety concern and the cameras, a public service announcement (PSA) video has been created about this latest student safety initiative.  The PSA may be viewed on the HCBOE website at www.hcbe.net.

ATS is the market leader in road safety camera installations in North America.  More than 3,000 ATS-installed red-light and speed safety cameras serve more than 30 million people.  For more information, visit www.atscrossingguard.com.  To discuss school bus safety, please contact the HCBOE Director of Transportation, Frank Scott, at 478-929-7897 or Frank.Scott@hcbe.net.

NOTE:  Here is the direct link to the PSA video:  http://www.hcbe.net/ats-video.aspx.  Bus safety tips are attached, as are a brochure and frequently asked questions.  These documents are also posted online.

Beth McLaughlin, HCBOE Director of Community & School Affairs, 478-988-6390, ext. 0,
Lt. Ronnie Harlowe, Houston County Sherriff’s Office, 478-542-2080, harlowe@houstoncountyga.org
Charles Territo, American Traffic Solutions, 480-443-7000,