Officials at the West Virginia Department of Education in Charleston, WV estimate close to 500 motorists run school bus stop signs every school day. But even though cameras are in place on buses to record those violations, there is still little that can be done to punish those who break the law.
Peggy Whitacre, a transportation supervisor for Kanawha County Schools, recently shared a few clips of video recorded on buses in Charleston, WV and the Elkview area. The video shows motorists running school bus stop signs.
She said laws are tougher and penalties are more strict than they used to be.
Technology records the speed of the bus and the location of the bus. Cameras capture several angles inside and outside of the bus.
"We have the license number we can freeze it right there," Whitacre said about one of the incidents.
But it turns out knowing who the car belongs to isn't enough. "I can't do anything about it because we cannot identify the driver of the vehicle," Whitacre said. "It scares the driver because those are their kids."
Michael Pickens is serving as the Student Transportation Director for the West Virginia Department of Education.
"We slowly are putting into our specifications cameras that potentially have the added value to see not only the stop sign at the same time as the driver but to see the motorists close up and in great detail who violate the law and pass the school bus when the stop sign is out," Pickens said.
He said the upgrades are expensive and have to be implemented slowly. But he said plans are in the works to roll out better, more strategically placed cameras to keep motorists from getting by with breaking the law in West Virginia and potentially putting children at risk.
"The technology is now available that we have cameras that are able to see images that are much clearer than we used to be," Pickens said. "The placement of the camera can be put in a place where we are able to identify those violators."
Officials also want motorists to be aware that when they are traveling on a roadway with several lanes of traffic, motorists traveling both directions have to stop for the school bus stop sign. Anyone who does not stop is breaking the law. Punishment could include fines, jail time and losing your license.