2019-02-13 / Front Page

Bus stop violators to be caught on camera

DIANA ROYAL

The Burke County Public School System and the sheriff’s office have teamed up to help make the roads safer for school buses and the children they transport.

Beginning next Tuesday, Feb. 19, those who pass school bus stop signs will be caught on camera. Thanks to a partnership with BusPatrol, a Virginia-based company that installs cameras on buses to catch these perpetrators, Burke County hopes the problem will quickly become a thing of the past.

According to Clary Dishmond, who serves as the director of transportation for the local school system, the county has approximately 20 violations of this type every day, and since bus drivers are spending their time ensuring that students get on and off the bus and across the street safely, they aren’t able to get tag information for other drivers not obeying the law.

That’s where BusPatrol comes in.

Spokesperson Katie Sharkey explained that the buses are equipped with seven cameras that will capture anyone who passes a stopped school bus in Burke County. “We’re watching,” she said. “If you do pass a stop, you will be caught.”

Sharkey went on to say that those who violate the law will be issued a $250 citation. Violators may review the citation and video evidence online. “If the owner of the vehicle does contest the citation, the same evidence will be provided to the Burke County Courts, and it will then be up to the judge hearing the case to determine whether the individual is guilty or not. It’s up to [the violators] to prove that they weren't driving the car that day because Georgia legislation clearly states it goes to the registered owner of the vehicle.”

While BusPatrol is an important step for the school district, there is one student in particular who takes the safety measures personally. Ja’Quan White, a BCHS senior who works in the transportation department, was hit by a vehicle as it passed his stopped school bus back in 2010, leaving him in critical condition for several days due to severe head trauma.

Dishmond said the school system will install cameras on 10 buses in high traffic areas, including those around Highway 25 and Plant Vogtle.

In addition to providing more safety for area children, the program also costs Burke County taxpayers not one penny. “Once a citation is paid and funds are collected they will split between the school district, the county and Bus- Patrol,” Sharkey said. “There at no time will be any charge or payment required on behalf of the school or law enforcement.”

“This is an awesome partnership,” said BCSO Chief Deputy Lewis Blanchard, adding that the sheriff ’s office will be working diligently to follow up on these citations and hold violators accountable. “Our number one job is to ensure that our future leaders make it to become our future leaders.”

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