(Posted March 18, 2015)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Over the past couple of weeks, the London Police Department has received an increased number of complaints about motorists failing to stop when a school bus is picking up or dropping off students.
Police Chief David Wiseman said his department issued two citations for violations that happened the first week of March. One of those violations occurred at the corner of Keny Boulevard and Ansley Court, an area from which the department has received several citizen complaints.
“We’ve sent officers to the areas where we’ve received complaints to see what’s going on,” Wiseman said.
By law, when a school bus driver activates the red lights on the bus, other motorists must stop, leaving room for students to get to or from the bus. Motorists must remain stopped until the bus lights are turned off. Lights are activated when the bus is picking up or dropping off students. They remain lit while the bus driver waits for students to be seated on the bus.
Bus drivers can submit a form to the police department when they witness a violation of this law. They must be able to include the license plate number of the vehicle committing the violation. The department can then issue citations based on those reports.
New cameras for buses
On March 10, the school board approved the purchase of all new cameras for the district’s 13 buses and one van. The cost is $24,500. The equipment will be installed this summer.
Dave Lattimer, district transportation coordinator, recom-mended the switch. While the existing camera system is functional, the equipment is 10 years old, produces grainy images, and stores footage for only 24 hours.
The new cameras, said Superintendent Tom Ben, will produce clearer images and store footage for a longer period of time.
Currently, the vehicles are outfitted with two cameras each to monitor behavior on board. The new system will replace those cameras, plus add a third camera per vehicle, mounted to the dash or front window. One use for the third camera is to capture license plates numbers of vehicles violating the stop rule during student pickups and dropoffs.
Ben said the district likely will attempt to sell the old equipment. District treasurer Kristine Blind said the new equipment should be good for 10 years.
More pay for substitute drivers
In an effort to attract more substitute bus drivers, the school board approved an increase in the pay rate from $14.90 per hour to $17 per hour.
“We want to be more competitive,” Ben said, adding that Lattimer often must fill in as a driver, which takes him away from his administrative duties as transportation coordinator and truancy officer.
The next school board meeting is April 21 at 7 p.m.