Cobb renews school bus camera contract that mails tickets to drivers

Drivers of Cobb County need to think twice — again.

Commissioners renewed a contract Thursday night for the video system that tickets drivers who improperly pass a school bus. The contract lapsed on Nov. 8 after legal concerns.

The one-year extension immediately takes effect, allowing Cobb cops to review video of suspected violators and approve citations. 

“All of us on the board support the program and we are glad to renew it,” said Cobb commission chairman Mike Boyce. “We are already working with our legislative delegation to fix the issues that were raised.” 

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The contract with Arizona-based American Traffic Solutions and the Cobb County School District became an issue after, the county said, a number of concerns were raised about whether the civil citations were enforceable.

“Cobb County attorneys are working with legislators to tighten the rules governing the program,” the county said.

Ross Cavitt, county spokesman, said that the program this year has brought in $2,367,905 — that money is split between the county, the board of education and the contractor ATS.

INTERACTIVEFind out how well you know the traffic rules about school bus safety 

The camera on the school bus records the car, including the license plate. That footage is sent via Bluetooth to ATS. A Cobb police officer reviews the footage, and if there's been a violation, ATS will send out the $300 citation.

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

Traffic in both directions must stop when a school bus is stopped with flashing signals and loading or unloading students. Don't stop, and you’re likely to receive a ticket.

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.

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This video shows situations for which drivers were ticketed in Cobb County. (Video provided by Cobb County Police Department)

Here’s how to avoid a $300 fine:

• All traffic in both directions must stop when a school bus stops with flashing signals, according to Georgia law.

• Motorists heading in both directions must stop for school buses that are loading and unloading (lights flashing and stop arm extended), unless the road is divided by a median.

• If there is a median, vehicles traveling in the opposite direction of the bus aren’t required to stop.

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