Drivers caught on camera running school bus stop arms

Video from Seminole County pilot program released

SANFORD, Fla. - A pilot video program in Seminole County caught 67 drivers running through stop arms on the side of school buses.

Seminole County Public Schools teamed up with American Traffic Solutions of Scottsdale, Arizona to conduct surveillance on areas where a DOE survey showed a heavy amounts of school bus stop arm violations.

Stop arms are engaged when schools buses stop to pick up and drop off students at bus stops.

According to Florida law, on a two-lane roadway the vehicles traveling in both directions must stop.

On a multi-lane roadway with no barrier or paved access in between, vehicles on both sides must also stop.

On divided highways where there is median or some type of barrier like grass, only drivers behind the bus must stop while drivers on the other side of the highway are not required to stop.

 In the video ATS collected of drivers in Seminole County running bus arms, it is clear that there is confusion on the law.

Some of the clips show drivers in the far lanes of the roadway driving right past the stopped bus.  Many show drivers not making any attempt to even stop next to or behind the buses.

The violations found in Seminole County occurred from October 3, 2010 through November 16, 2012, but the pilot program will continue through the school year.

The cameras were placed on bus routes that service the Altamonte, Lake Brantley, Milwee, English Estats and Lake Howell areas.  Placement of cameras was determined by the results of a DOE survey.

Currently, drivers caught on the surveillance systems will not be ticketed for running the stop arms but lobbyists have been pushing the legislature to create a law that would utilize school bus stop arm videos the same way as red light cameras.

A representative from ATS said the company has several pilot programs in place around the state, including Orange, Osceola, Brevard and Volusia schools. 

In Georgia, ATS is already collecting video data and issuing citations on behalf of several municipalities.

The company representative said there is no charge for school districts to install or maintain the surveillance.  ATS gets a portion of the fine issued to the driver.

According to Seminole County Schools transportation department, legislation was proposed in 2012 to create a law allowing drivers to be cited after being caught on camera running the bus arms.

The transportation department is presenting the findings of the first part of the pilot program at the board meeting on Tuesday.

The board would need to approve full implementation of the system if a state law were passed to allow the citations. 

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