GRAY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Several school buses in Jones County are now upgraded to crack down on dangerous drivers.
The buses are equipped with cameras that will catch people passing stopped buses. Bus drivers say violators are a big problem and the cameras should help protect students.
“This right here. I think this is a blessing,” Charles Calloway, a bus driver, said while looking at the cameras.
Calloway says picking up and dropping off students is a challenge, not because of the demand of the job, but because he’s constantly looking for drivers not paying attention.
“Some of the routes I go on, like 159, they’ve got big trucks. They pass my bus all the time,” he said.
Now there will be another set of “eyes” looking to catch violators.
The school district installed cameras onto the sides of about 10% of the school buses in its fleet.
“In the last few years, we see distracted driving is a major issue,” Wendy Vaughn, Jones County Schools’ Transportation Director, said.
Cameras were put on buses that have busy routes or often have an issue with violators. In the last month, bus drivers in the county have spotted dozens of people speeding passed stopped buses as they were on their routes.
“You’ve got a lot of drivers that they’re either on a cell phone or they’re preoccupied with something else,” Calloway said.
Vaughn says while the school system may be small in comparison to other districts, students safety, no matter where you are, is important.
“A bus driver’s attention is supposed to be on the safety on the student loading and unloading off the bus,” Vaughn said.
The cameras are part of a program, Gatekeeper Systems Inc., where the school district got the equipment for free. If any violators get caught by both law enforcement and the company, some of the profits will go back into the school district.
“This was a good fit for our school system,” Vaughn said.
Calloway says while having the cameras on his bus is comforting, he knows more needs to be done.
“Even though the camera is there, it’s still not safe to just step across,” he said.
He adds he and his fellow drivers need to stay alert and also look out for pedestrians.
Vaughn says Jones County plans on issuing tickets beginning next month.