ROCKAWAY CANTON – The district will soon install cameras on its school buses to catch motorists who put students at risk by refusing to stop.
The cameras have been approved to solve the persistent problem that school bus drivers have found, said Superintendent James McLaughlin. Distracted drivers passing by stopped school buses with flashing red lights are a big problem, district officials said.
Once the cameras are installed, they will be able to register the vehicles that do not stop and the police will use this information to send a convocation by post.
"The school board works with the police and the administration. We want this to be done for the safety and well-being of our children, "said Councilor Jack Quinn.
The school district purchased its first two cameras in Seon, Missouri at a cost of $ 3,890, including installation. The cameras will target passing cars whenever students get on or off at bus stops.
Residents of Fleetwood Drive will be happy to hear that, Quinn said. It is one of the main arteries of the city and one of the hotspots that concern local officials.
Quinn said he had been involved in the case last year after a parent asked him for help.
"They were almost hit by a car when a driver bypassed the bus, which was stopped with his road sign. In reality, the father had to reach out to grab the child's hoodie and take it off the road, "said Quinn.
The Rockaway Township Police Department, the board and the school board have all received complaints, officials said. In addition to Fleetwood Drive, officials plan to take a closer look at Green Pond Road, which connects with Highway 80.
McLaughlin said he expects there to be several districts on which to focus and use driver information to determine which buses are first equipped with cameras.
"Based on the feedback from our pilots, we will choose routes where the cameras will be most useful, where cars will break red lights and stop signs," McLaughlin said.
Eventually, cameras will be mounted on all new buses. In the meantime, police chief Martin McParland and McLaughlin are encouraging motorists to record license plate numbers and descriptions of offending vehicles.
"We also encourage them to sign appropriate complaints when an identification can be made," McParland said.
According to Lt. Col. Paul Reilly of the Rockaway Township Police Department, five charges were filed against fearless drivers in 2017 and 2018. Two of them were written by officers, one on the Avenue. from the Mountain and the other on the Mount. Hope Road. The other convocations were written by private citizens.
The nearby city of Denville has installed cameras for the same reasons in 2017. Then, the chief of police, Christopher Wagner, described the alarming frequency of the "epidemic" violation that he attributes to drivers distracted by their smartphones. McLaughlin agrees with this assessment. He added that people have been educated about the law.
"I think driving tests and public awareness clearly show that you are supposed to stop when you see the stop sign and the red lights of a bus," he said.
The law requires drivers to stop at 25 feet from a school bus with flashing red lights when the lanes are only separated by lines. On a dual-lane road, cars must slow down to 10 mph on the other side of the island or the median, and only after the signals have been turned off.
A first offense costs not less than $ 100 and may include 15 days in jail or 15 days of community service; the following offenses are $ 250 and 15 days in prison, according to state law. Five vehicle points are also deducted from the driving license.
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McParland stated that the police service assigned unmarked patrol cars to track buses after receiving a complaint.
Buses with cameras will be on the road in April.