CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — The shop team at Carl Junction R-1 School District doesn't just conduct maintenance in-house; they also build their own bus surveillance systems in-house.
Woody Shoemaker, transportation assistant at Carl Junction, told SBF that the district has had its own video systems on its fleet for several years. The program was spearheaded by lead technician John Trease.
"The video systems are completely put together by our shop technicians," Shoemaker said. "These are four-camera systems: three cameras on the inside and one camera on the outside to catch the dreaded stop-arm violator."
Based on an idea by Transportation Director Mike Sharp, the Carl Junction team recently launched an exploratory program in which they added two more cameras on two buses.
One of the additional cameras is mounted on the back of the bus and activates a monitor, "much like the backup camera that you would find on a higher-end automobile," Shoemaker said.
The second camera is mounted underneath the bus on the frame, near the transmission. Like the camera on the back of the bus, it also faces rearward and activates the same monitor — but only when the bus is in neutral, such as at a bus stop.
"This view lets the driver see the area in front of the rear dual wheels," Shoemaker explained. "If something is in front of these wheels, the driver can see it."
Even though its position is so close to the road, the under-bus camera has held up well.
"We have run these two under-body camera systems for almost an entire school year with no problems," Shoemaker said. "It stays surprisingly clean, even after a hard winter with lots of snow and ice."
Carl Junction dubbed the under-bus camera the J.A.C.O.B. System, which stands for "Just Another Child On the Bus." The name is in honor of Jacob Wright, a 6-year-old Missouri student who died in 2004 when he fell under his bus and was run over.
Shoemaker noted that the additional cameras are not meant to replace the bus mirrors.
"It is another tool that we can use to keep our students safe," he said. "As the driver of one of the buses with this six-camera system, I can tell you that it is a wonderful tool for the bus driver.
The cost of the four-camera systems is about $500 per bus, not counting the Carl Junction team's own labor. The extra two cameras add about $100 per bus to that expense.