School Bus Cameras will Catch Passing Drivers
WETHERSFIELD - Connecticut motorists have been getting around school bus traffic laws--literally--and Wethersfield is equipping itself to catch violators.

       The Town Council unanimously authorized a five-year agreement with the company Student Guardian for the installation of exterior cameras for school buses at last Tuesday, Feb. 19, night’s meeting.

       “The police chief realized that we have cases of people passing stopped school buses,” said Wethersfield Town Manager Jeff Bridges, “and we felt that this was a solution.”

       The cameras, which will be monitored from a central station that assembles data and footage that law enforcement can access via a website, will be covered by violator tickets, said Dana Mickey of Student Guardian during a presentation given to the Council.

       Passing a stopped school bus carries a $465 fine, $15 of which will go toward an administration fee, Mickey said. Of the remaining $450, 80 percent will go to the town, while 20 percent stays with the state.

       Student Guardian disclosed statistics regarding 43 of its equipped buses from various towns throughout Connecticut. The buses saw 952 violations, with a pass-per-day average of 1.01 for each bus, according to the data.

       “I didn’t realize it was this frequent,” Bridges said during the presentation.

       Stratford’s five equipped buses saw the most violations, with 227 passes, followed by 10 Student Guardian buses in Hamden that had 198 passes, the data said.

       The high definition cameras will be added to the exterior sides of the bus and can capture vehicle license plate numbers as well as operate efficiently with little light or less than ideal weather, according to Student Guardian. The equipment is also capable of capturing still images, as well as monitoring traffic across two lanes and from both directions.

       Student Guardian has also provided guidelines and training for local law enforcement in regard to evidence assessment, and the program includes avenues for alleged offenders to challenge a ticket.