VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach school buses now have an extra set of eyes to keep students safe.
The district added cameras to the outside of dozens of buses to keep drivers from illegally passing while students are unloading.
Under state law, drivers approaching a school bus are not allowed to pass if the bus’s stop-arm is extended or its red lights are flashing, but many drivers still do it.
An exception to the rule is if a driver’s vehicle is separated from a school bus by a solid barrier or median.
The school district hopes the cameras will prevent any tragedy from happening. Parents we spoke to said the cameras are much needed.
100 school buses are now equipped with video cameras on the outside of the vehicle.
“Once the red lights are activated and the stop arm is extended, the sensors in the camera are activated and it captures pictures of the approaching vehicles as it approaches the bus,” a district transportation official said.
The cameras can detect a vehicle passing in any direction and even capture license plates along with the vehicle’s GPS location. Virginia Beach police will review the footage and violators could face a $250 citation.
“I think it’s amazing and it should’ve been done a long time ago,” Elizabeth Murphy said. “It allows a way for people to be caught if it happens and it adds another layer of protection.”
A national survey taken last year revealed on a single day across 38 states and Washington D.C., nearly 84,000 vehicles passed school buses illegally. Parents said Virginia Beach is no exception.
“I’ve seen too many people go by the stop signs and not even caring, texting on their phone, talking on their phone, don’t even pay attention to the stop sign,” said parent Seren Cohen.
Virginia Beach Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence said the district doesn’t want drivers to get citations. It just wants them to stop.
“I think they should put them on all the buses,” Akhiera Gilliam said. “Pay attention, be considerate. If you’re going to be late, leave early. Don’t risk a kid’s life because you’re five minutes late for work.”
This is the first phase of the camera implementation.
We’re told the school district will be working with the police department to monitor the program and determine if more cameras should be installed.