Ansonia School Bus Cams Could Catch Lawless Motorists
by Ethan Fry | Dec 11, 2013 9:31 pm
Posted to: Ansonia
Ansonia Aldermen on Tuesday hired a Louisiana-based company to perform a survey of its school bus routes with a view to putting cameras on certain buses to catch motorists who pass them when they’re stopped.
Fifth Ward Alderwoman Joan Radin brought the problem up during an Aldermen’s meeting two months ago, saying she sees people passing stopped school buses in the area of Wakelee Avenue and Jackson Street all too often.
But the problem is widespread, officials say, and there aren’t enough cops to assign to follow around every school bus.
Police Chief Kevin Hale told Aldermen Tuesday he met several times over the past several weeks with Schools Superintendent Carol Merlone, officials from the city’s bus company, and representatives from Bus Shield, LLC.
“There’s no cost to the city, there’s actually a revenue-share,” Hale said, encouraging Aldermen to support the agreement. “Obviously the more important thing is the safety of children.”
Louis DeLong, a founder of Bus Shield, LLC, spoke to Aldermen extensively about the project Tuesday.
“We put cameras on the inside and outside of school buses,” DeLong said.
The cameras record video whenever a car passes a bus that is stopped with its “stop arm” extended and lights on.
The camera’s software uses has motion-sensor technology to automatically alert to a person driving past, but there is also a “panic button” the driver can press in the event of an incident.
The software then sends the video, with additional details about when and where the violation occurred, to the police department.
Cops then investigate and, if possible, issue a ticket.
The punishment for passing a standing school bus is $450, Hale said Tuesday.
Of that total, 20 percent goes to the state. The program pays for itself by the city and the company divvying up the rest.
The precise details of the fine-sharing haven’t yet been worked out because the company first has to perform a survey of all the city’s bus routes and determine which buses to put the cameras on.
But the program will cost the city nothing, he said, and the company will pay to maintain the cameras.
“We’re going to do a survey of the entire fleet, and then from that pull the data and see where it makes sense (to put cameras on buses),” DeLong told Aldermen Tuesday.
He estimated that after the survey, the cameras would be put on 20 to 30 percent of buses initially, because typically, “30 percent of the routes get 70 percent of the violations.”
“We’re going to run them for a full week on every bus. And if you get the best drivers in the world and nobody passes it, we’re going to go ‘Thank you very much, if it changes, please contact us,’” DeLong said. “The only thing we’re obligated to do is to do the survey, share that data, and then work on the best program.”
As more fines are collected, the company would put cameras on more buses.
DeLong predicted offenses to drop about 50 percent within six to nine months of the cameras being put on buses.
He said after about a year, the number of passing violations typically climbs back up to about 70 percent of what is was before the cameras, but “If we can decrease 30 percent, that’s 30 percent less chance for children to be hurt.”