Cobb renews school bus camera contract, expects to make $10M in fines

Credit: Cobb County Police Department

Credit: Cobb County Police Department

Cobb County’s worst drivers can continue smiling for the school bus camera.

County commissioners voted at their meeting Tuesday to renew a five-year contract with the company that mails $300 tickets to drivers for not properly stopping at school buses when their stop arms are down.

Ross Cavitt, county spokesman, said the price tag for the contract is about $12.3 million. The county along with the school board and the contractor are all expected to make $3.4 million each from fines. It works out to about $10.4 million over the five years.

Violators paid out $2.37 million in all during 2017, Cavitt said.

He said he expects the school board to ratify this at their next meeting.

Cobb was previously on a one-year contract with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions while county lawyers figured out whether the civil citations were enforceable.

The Cobb state court clerk has hired three new staff members and the Cobb solicitor's office hired two folks "because of the burden on resources (the system) has on the judicial system," according to a memo from County Manager Rob Hosack.

On average, this program generates more than 8,000 cases a year, Cavitt said in a news release.

Credit: Cobb County Government

Credit: Cobb County Government

The Cobb school board originally approved the use of school bus cameras in 2012. And, as of October 2016, about 25 percent of Cobb school buses had the cameras.

Cavitt said there are plans to add more cameras.

The device on the school bus records the offending vehicle, including the license plate. That footage is beamed  to ATS. A Cobb police officer reviews the footage, and if there's been a violation, ATS will send out the $300 citation.

READRead the excuses motorists gave to a judge after being caught by school bus cameras

The citations are popular at the start of school when people aren’t used to the big yellow buses being back on the road.

Cobb police statistics show 2,241 people violated the law in August 2016. That number was 1,712 in 2015 and 1,822 the year before that.

Charles Territo, a spokesman for ATS, previously spoke with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about efficacy: "These programs are designed to change driver behavior. Our records show that 99 percent of drivers who've been ticketed once haven't received a second ticket."

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