School bus stop sign

When the stop sign on every school bus is extended, drivers in either direction must halt. 

CANTON — Cherokee County School District may join other metro Atlanta districts in catching drivers who pass stopped school buses by using stop-arm cameras.

The district is testing the cameras in portions of Cherokee County before it decides whether to contract with a camera company for the entire district.

Superintendent Brian Hightower announced at the school board meeting Feb. 16 plans to test the stop-arm cameras this spring, with plans to expand the system across the district if they are successful.

Surrounding school districts including Cobb, Forsyth and Fulton have implemented similar school bus camera systems. If CCSD makes the program districtwide, it is projected to come at no cost to the district; companies that provide the service cover their costs through a portion of the fines collected from violators by police and courts, rather than charging school districts.

The school board has considered stop-arm cameras before, but now has the support of local law enforcement and court officials needed to move forward, according to district spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby.

“The purpose of the pilot is to determine if such a system would help improve safety for bus riders. The proposed pilot will put cameras on six CCSD school buses on one set of routes for a month, and then put those cameras on six different buses for a month,” Jacoby said in an email to the Tribune. “If the Superintendent, based on the pilot’s results, determines cameras should be installed on all buses, CCSD will use an (Request for Proposal) system to award a contract. The pilot will not result in citations for violators – its purpose is to test out using a system and capture data about the number of violators.”

In the district’s most recent one-day count, 178 violators were reported to have illegally passed a stopped school bus. School bus drivers take a count of violators one day a year.

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Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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