Red light cameras. Police scanner cameras. Body cameras. Light post cameras. And now…school bus cameras, at least for several metro areas like Gwinnett, Cobb, and Clayton counties as well as Marietta and Decatur City Schools.
Failing to yield for a school bus stop sign is one of the more dangerous traffic violations on the books and very few people will argue anything about the current law should be changed. In Gwinnett County, though, fines are increased if the violation is caught on a camera attached to a school bus.
But as the AJC reported this morning, like most technology “wins”, there are downfalls, too. It now seems drivers are being penalized when the sign has been out for merely a second or two.
Gwinnett Solicitor Rosanna Szabo told the AJC they’re now asking that the sign be out for 3 or more seconds before issuing a citation, as one or two seconds may not be enough reaction time for drivers to make a stop. 1,370 motorists have paid the price in the past six months while 150 were dismissed.
The school system? They’re lovin’ it. Gwinnett County Schools collected $574,425 in fines from January to June. They say they use it for transportation-related safety projects and to pay officers who review the footage. (If they’re hiring, we should all apply. That is a substantial salary.)
Also of concern, cameras are administered by an Australian company, Redflex, that has been at the center of federal bribery case out of Chicago for months.
These cameras bring about the same worries any other government-run recording devices do. How often is this data purged? Where is it stored? Can it be hacked? What information is attached to the license tag? Is it or is it not subject to open records requests? Hint: Based on a bill that failed to pass in the legislature this past year, there aren’t succinct and safe answers to any of those questions.
Additionally, cameras don’t protect children riding the school bus or limit the number of kids who will be struck by vehicles not adhering to the law any more than the current sign on the bus, the flashing lights, or the laws on the books. It only punishes the violator after the fact. The Gwinnett School district begs to differ, however, citing no children have been struck since the cameras were installed.