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by Monica Burge
January 29, 2013 03:08 PM | 2101 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Implementation of an automated stop arm enforcement program has proven successful for Bartow County Schools, and now the next wave of school bus route analysis is underway to determine whether the program should be expanded.

District officials tapped REDFLEX Student Guardian last fall to implement a fully automated safety camera system that monitors and detects drivers who illegally pass school buses, endangering the lives of children as they enter and exit the bus.

During the first semester of operation, 165 citations 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.

“The ultimate goal of this partnership is to create a safer environment for our students. Safety is a top priority, and this program allows our bus drivers to focus more closely on their passengers while the stop arm camera records violations,” said Jody Elrod, director of transportation for Bartow County Schools. “Dr. [John] Harper and the school board have been very supportive of the program and its implementation. The launch has required much coordination between agencies.”

Bartow County was among the first counties in Georgia to approve the use of stop arm enforcement. Nine school buses were installed with Student Guardian following an initial routes analysis last semester. This fleet has since been averaging 0.78 passes per bus per day.

The team at Student Guardian is now assisting the school district with another wave of school bus route analysis to determine if other high-risk routes exist, and whether automated stop arm enforcement will help curb any dangerous driving behaviors.

The Student Guardian safety camera system is installed on the front and rear driver’s side of a school bus. 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.

“It’s unrealistic to have officers trail every school bus every day to ensure our students are safe,” said Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap. “This technology does the job for us. We can use 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.”

Bartow County Schools reached an agreement with Redflex to operate the Student Guardian program without any upfront costs to the district or county. The program is fully funded by citations.

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