POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Powhatan County Public Schools is trying to catch drivers who fail to stop for school buses, putting students at risk.
The school district is considering a pilot program to install cameras on its buses. Local officials, like Powhatan County supervisor David Williams, said they want these cameras to serve as a reminder for drivers to stop.
“Buses that are full stop, and of course they have the arm out, and we have instances where people are still going ahead and passing the bus,” he said.
Williams said too many drivers have been passing school buses illegally. In September, a pickup truck hit the stop-arm of a Powhatan school bus while students were loading onto it.
After bus drivers’ concerns reached the school board and the sheriff’s office, they agreed to a pilot program that will mount cameras on buses. The cameras will record every violator’s license plate.
The videos will then be forwarded to the sheriff’s office for a review and to determine if they’ll issue a fine.
According to Williams, the cameras are at no expense to the county.
“It doesn’t cost us anything. It gives us an opportunity to really quantify if there is a problem, the extent of the problem and then be able to take next steps with informed information,” he said.
The pilot program would be funded with revenue from the violators, and the first phase would include retrofitting at least two buses with the cameras, Williams said.
The Powhatan County Board of Supervisors amended its ordinance earlier this month to allow the school board to implement this kind of camera program.
“We can’t do anything unless we have the permission of the General Assembly,” he said. “The General Assembly granted us this option.”
However, some residents think it’s a government overreach.
“This technology will not stop accidents from happening… Cameras do not stop moving vehicles. Cameras are not a prevention tool. They merely record what happened,” said one woman at a Board of Supervisors’ meeting in November. “Focus on educating students, not spying on citizens.”
But for Williams, implementing this program means a tragedy could be averted.
“You’re always alarmed when someone’s doing something that’s a public safety issue. That’s your first thing, you try not to imagine someone will do that,” he added.
The pilot program could roll out sometime soon, Williams said.