County schools to test cameras

Posted: March 28, 2014

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — The Frederick County school division will participate in a pilot program that will aid in catching drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses.

On Thursday, members of the School Board’s Building and Grounds Committee heard a presentation by Redflex Traffic Systems of Phoenix, which installs cameras on the sides of school buses.

Assistant Superintendent for Administration Al Orndorff said he is most interested in the prevention and intervention aspect of the program.

“If we can prevent some child being injured even slightly, it’s well worth it,” he said.

No vote was taken at the meeting.

Redflex is currently working with 18 jurisdictions in Virginia, including Clarke County. The company has issued 15,000 tickets nationwide since 2008.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16 children under the age of 19 are killed each year as pedestrians getting on and off buses.

The pilot program will install cameras on at least two buses for 30 days. Based on the results, division officials will decide whether to move forward with the full program.

Violators caught by the cameras would face a $250 civil fine, but no points would be added to their driving record. The program wouldn’t cost the county anything — the company’s income would come from the fines collected from violators. Redflex would maintain and operate the equipment.

A local ordinance is required to enact the full program. No specific time has been set for the implementation of the pilot program.

“We’ll never see the problem go down to zero, but hopefully we can put a dent in it,” said Lt. Warren Gosnell.

In February, Winchester City Council voted 8-1 to approve an ordinance allowing the installation of bus cameras. The school division is still working on the details of the contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) of Tempe, Ariz., with the buses likely equipped during the summer for use when school starts in August.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com