With an eye on reducing the dangerous problem of illegal passing of school buses, five districts in North Carolina are testing cameras to catch violators in the act.
The pilot program is using a surveillance system that positions three cameras on the outside of the bus. The goal is to cut down on the more than 2,000 illegal passing incidents that school buses in the state experience daily.
When a vehicle passes a bus that has its stop arm activated, the system captures images of the vehicle, its license plate and the driver.
North Carolina state director Derek Graham told SBF that the endeavor is being funded by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program and was prompted by legislation passed in 2009 to allow camera and video evidence to be used to prosecute stop-arm violations — and to stiffen penalties for the violations.
The state contracted with Fortress Mobile in Charlotte to provide the surveillance systems for seven school buses in the Carteret, Wake, Iredell, Rowan and Stokes districts.
At the Carteret County Public School System, the cameras have been installed on one bus that will rotate among various routes in the county.
Carteret Transportation Director Lloyd Willis told The Daily News that while the cameras’ images can be used in court, the ultimate goal is to prevent the illegal passing.
“We hope the program will increase the safety of school bus transportation by increasing awareness,” Graham added. “This is a preventative measure, and we hope to see positive results.”