Caught on camera: School bus violators

Caught on camera: School bus violators
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)
(Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - There's no question: dangerous drivers put kids on school buses in danger.

In a WALB News 10 investigation, video footage reveals drivers who speed by stopped buses, and even disregard bus stop arms.

During the investigation, a GoPro camera mounted on a Dougherty County school bus recorded everything that happened on some busy roads.

In one instance, a driver speeds up and passes the school bus while it was making a stop on Highway 82.

It's a situation that clearly puts school kids in danger.

Former bus driver Mona Powell said a child hurt on her watch is every bus driver's worst fear.

"It would be devastating," said Powell.

She is a former driver for Worth County, where she drove for 12 years.

"Some of the cars did not," she recalled. "They just refused to come to a complete stop. People don't heed the warnings when they see [bus] lights."

WALB News 10's GoPro camera caught violators in the act.

Two cars blew by a bus in one instance, and the second zoomed by well after the bus stop arm extended.

In the video, a highlighted area shows the arm extending after the first car goes by, then the second one passes.

"It's very disheartening because our mission is to get the kids to school, and get them to school safely," said Dougherty County Transportation Director Kenneth Williams.

With more than 300 routes run by 120 buses in Dougherty County alone, there are many places drivers may need to slow down and watch each day.

But the law for drivers is simple.

"When the school bus stops and the stop bar on the side of the bus, and it's on the left side of the bus, and the lights are red and flashing, and the stop sign comes out, all traffic must stop," said Albany Police Patrol Officer Christopher Richardson.

But, clearly, some people just don't obey, and Albany city administrators say it is a growing problem.

The five most dangerous roads in Dougherty County, according to Kenneth Williams, are U.S. 19, Highway 82, Gillionville Road, Oakridge Drive, and Palmyra Road.

"Here in Albany, we have houses that are on these major roadways that we sometimes do have to pick up students," said Williams.

But what happens if you get caught?

"You must appear in court before that citation. It is up to a $1,000 fine and six points off your license," said Richardson.

But ultimately, the bus driver is the last line of defense for children entering or exiting a bus.

"Before you get that child out of that seat you've got to make sure that you have checked every area around you before you let that child off the bus," said Powell.

Several other Georgia school systems have already installed their own cameras on school buses to catch violators, and Williams believes that could likely curb the problem of dangerous drivers in Dougherty County.

"From what I've gathered from other systems that are currently using stop-arm cameras now, is that it has decreased the number of stop-arm violations," said Williams.

He hopes to have cameras installed on some Dougherty County buses by 2015 to help catch violators.

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