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Newton school buses equipped to track illegal passers

Bus #2140 is pictured here pulling out from the Newton County College and Career Academy’s bus line on Tuesday afternoon. This bus features one of the newly installed cameras that will capture pictures of motorists who illegally pass a school bus while it is stopped. (Staff Photo: Julie Wells) Bus #2140 is pictured here pulling out from the Newton County College and Career Academy’s bus line on Tuesday afternoon. This bus features one the newly installed cameras that will capture pictures of motorists who illegal pass a school bus while it is stopped. (Staff Photo: Julie Wells)

Bus #2140 is pictured here pulling out from the Newton County College and Career Academy’s bus line on Tuesday afternoon. This bus features one of the newly installed cameras that will capture pictures of motorists who illegally pass a school bus while it is stopped. (Staff Photo: Julie Wells) Bus #2140 is pictured here pulling out from the Newton County College and Career Academy’s bus line on Tuesday afternoon. This bus features one the newly installed cameras that will capture pictures of motorists who illegal pass a school bus while it is stopped. (Staff Photo: Julie Wells)

COVINGTON – As the 2014-15 school year begins, school buses are hitting the roads once again, and the Newton County School System is tracking drivers who illegally pass school buses.

In the state of Georgia, it is against the law to pass a school bus while students are boarding or exiting the vehicles. To track motorists who illegally pass, NCSS buses are equipped with cameras that record drivers’ vehicle information. That information is then sent to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office in order to issue violation notices.

“The school bus stop photo enforcement program provides us with an efficient way to enforce school bus stop laws and better safeguard the children that ride the bus,” said NCSO public information officer Cortney Morrison.

Since August 2012, NCSO has backed NCSS in the school bus stop photo enforcement program with the use of cameras. The cameras, which are high-resolution, are currently furnished on 25 NCSS buses and are supplied and operated by American Traffic Solutions. To ensure the safety of students boarding and disembarking the buses, these cameras capture photos and videos of drivers who illegally pass.

In Georgia, the initial fine for illegally passing a school bus with these cameras is $300; however the fine increases with each subsequent violation. Drivers who illegally pass a school bus more than once can expect a $750 fine the second time, and a $1,000 fine for the third violation in a five-year period.

NCSS Director of Support Services Michael Barr said that the camera equipment is provided to the school system at no cost. ATS receives half of the funds collected from violation fines to cover the cost of equipment.

“The partnership between the school system, American Traffic Solutions, and the Newton County Sheriff’s Office provides us with a way to better protect students as they travel to and from school,” said Barr.