“During the first semester of operation, 165 violations were issued to drivers for illegally passing school buses while the stop arm is extended and amber lights are flashing, a fine that carries a $300 penalty,” Redflex Student Guardian spokesperson Andrea Aker wrote in a press release.
The school board previously approved the implementation of the Redflex Student Guardian, a fully-automated safety camera system that monitors and detects drivers who illegally pass a bus.
“[Redflex] has done a phenomenal job getting this thing up and operational with our court system and sheriff’s office,” Bartow County Director of Transportation Jody Elrod said. “One of the great things about [Redflex] is it’s a great safety tool for us to have on our buses in the areas where we know we have issues with cars running our school bus stop signs.
“It actually adds no cost to the school system at all. Redflex actually does all the road analysis, the installations, they pay for all the equipment and the program is funded 100 percent by fines from the tickets that are issued [for illegally passing a bus].
Nine school buses were installed with the system following an initial route analysis last semester. According to the release, the fleet averages .78 passes per bus per day.
Aker explained the camera system is installed on the front and rear driver’s side of a school bus, adding, “It monitors traffic while the bus’ stop arm and amber lights are displayed, leaving the bus driver free to focus on students. Evidence of violations, including video and photos, is submitted to local law enforcement to determine whether a citation is warranted.”
Thomas O’Connor, president of Redflex Student Guardian, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Redflex Traffic Systems, said in the press release the program is a boon for the entire community.
“Stop arm enforcement is one of the most effective ways to deter drivers from illegally passing school buses,” O’Connor said. “Not only does it protect students, it helps raise community awareness about school bus safety in general.”
Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap said having additional safety measures on school buses aids the sheriff’s office’s mission as well.
“It’s unrealistic to have officers trail every school bus every day to ensure our students are safe,” Millsap said in the release. “This technology does the job for us. We can use [Redflex Student Guardian] to monitor dangerous activities on our roadways and prevent drivers from making rash decisions. It also frees up patrols to focus on other high-priority tasks.”
Redflex currently is assisting the school system with another wave of analysis to determine if other high-risk routes exist and whether the system is curbing dangerous driving behaviors.
To learn more about the Student Guardian safety program, visit www.redflexstudentguardian.com.