Augusta, GA – After some parents told News Channel 6 about speeding around school buses in Columbia County, we decided to look into ways the school system could be proactive in keeping kids safe.
After some digging, we learned another school district faced the same problems such as drivers impatiently driving around school buses while the stop signs are out and the lights are flashing. The solution didn’t cost that much and is keeping kids safe with an extra set of eyes.
It took a child being killed in McDuffie County and two more hurt before school leaders there realized school bus stops need more policing.
Evans mother Elizabeth Baker came forward to News Channel 6 last week with complains about stop sign violations she saw while putting her daughter who lives with a physical disability on the bus.
“If the school bus has stopped and has its sign out people will go around it,” Baker said.
She told us they also speed in her neighborhood near North Belair Road. We compared that information with footage from bus exterior cameras in McDuffie County showing cars shoot by kids.
“We’ve had no incidents since we’ve had it. We’ve had it for three years,” said Jerry Stanphill, Chief of Department of Public Safety, McDuffie County Schools.
Stanphill said camera companies Student Guardian and Redflex researched the district’s buses and found speeding problems. Stanphill said three buses have small cameras attached that begin recording once the bus’ stop sign pops out and the red lights begin flashing. Any driver that passes the sign gets recorded.
“Cameras will pick up the tag numbers of the vehicle. They will then run the vehicle through the database and get the driver’s information as well as the vehicle’s information,” Stanphill said.
The Redflex sends pictures and videos straight to Stanphill’s computer. Once he determines if a violation actually happened, he reports it and the company sends the driver a $300 ticket in the U.S. mail. The companies get their revenue from the tickets.
We shared the process with Columbia County school administrators to see if cameras were feasible on buses there.
Penny Jackson tells us there have been no speeding complaints so far this year in Columbia County, but prior to that there were some in the Grovetown area.
We told her there is no cost for Redflex cameras or the software. Aside from court costs, the district only needs to assign someone to watch a few videos for a few minutes a day.
“Absolutely. I think it’s something we need to look into and will,” Jackson said adding that the school system now works with Columbia County Sheriff’s Office to track violators near bus stops.
Richmond County School System also had a student hit and killed while catching the bus. Spokesman Kaden Jacobs said the school system is open to any suggestion that would help improve its service to the community.