Local News

School bus cameras poised to catch drivers who don't stop

Posted August 14, 2014 5:45 p.m. EDT
Updated August 15, 2014 1:12 p.m. EDT

— Two school buses in each of North Carolina’s 115 school districts will have cameras mounted on the outside to catch stop-arm violators, under a pilot program this year.

Officials are hoping the cameras will also serve as a deterrent to prevent tragedies such as the death last year of 7-year-old Aaliyah Morgan, who was killed when 39-year-old Johnny Spell drove his logging truck past a stopped school bus and hit her in Sampson County. Spell was sentenced last month to 18 years in prison.

“Any time that there are cars running by, if that child has to cross the street, then they're in jeopardy if someone is running that stop arm,” said Charles Bell, transportation supervisor for Cumberland County Schools.

Charlotte-based Fortress Mobile is installing the cameras and will store the video. The bus driver pushes a button and marks it when a violation occurs. The video is then retrieved and used in court.

“Directly underneath the stop-arm, there’s a camera that is pointed out, capturing the picture of the driver and seeing who the driver of the vehicle is,” Bell said.

Another camera points at traffic facing the rear of the bus.

The Rowan-Salisbury school system has been successful at prosecuting violators in court. Cumberland County officials will evaluate the program to determine whether they should purchase additional cameras next year.

School leaders said they hope the cameras encourage drivers to obey the law and stop when the red lights on a school bus are flashing and the stop-arm is out.

“Most of the time, I think, it’s people in a hurry and not paying attention to what it is,” Bell said.