In just a few days, hundreds of school buses will be back on the roads. Ahead of the first day of class, two Triad school systems are making bus safety a priority.
Guilford County Schools and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools are cracking down on drivers who pass stopped school buses. Both school systems are investing in additional exterior cameras.
“We have some buses that have one camera only on the exterior, but this system actually has the three cameras and we have five buses equipped with three cameras,” Jeff Harris, Guilford County Schools transportation director, said.
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools will have 27 buses with exterior cameras.
“You may recall in 2012 and 2013 we had four fatalities in North Carolina at a stopped school bus site and one of those unfortunately was in Winston-Salem,” W.G. “Dub” Potts, interim director of transportation at Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools, said.
School leaders are hoping that the extra visibility will give them more leverage in court by having an accurate picture of the make and model of the violator’s vehicle and the license plate number.
“It takes a lot of the guessing out of who did what,” Harris said.
Potts says in Winston-Salem, they also want to keep an eye on what’s happening on the bus. There will be interior cameras on 145 of the buses.
“On the 145 buses, each bus has four cameras, and that’s going to help us we think with trying to deter some of the discipline problems that we’ve had,” Potts said.
This school year will also mark the first time that Winston-Salem/Forsyth provides live GPS tracking of its buses.
The software was first tested by the school system’s transportation department, but will now be available to any school who wants it installed.
The software will help provide critical details in a stop arm violation, but it also allows school principals and other leaders to locate a bus.
“A parent wants to know what happened to my bus, the person on the other end might say, get back out there because it’s two blocks away,” Potts said.
Both counties plan to expand their camera monitoring programs when more funding is available.