Board approves cameras to catch bus passers

A camera installed on a Wolcott school bus to cite people who pass stopped school buses. The Board of Mayor and Burgesses and Board of Education have approved a plan to install similar cameras on buses in the borough. –RA ARCHIVE

NAUGAUTCK — Drivers who illegally pass school buses in Naugatuck should get ready for their close-up.

On Tuesday night, the Board of Mayor and Burgesses unanimously approved placing cameras on some school buses to capture and ticket drivers who illegally passed school buses. The board’s decision comes a month after the Board of Education gave its approval to the idea.

Al Cardi, regional director of Student Guardian, the company that will install and monitor the cameras, explained that there would be three high-definition cameras placed on the bus at different angles, which would catch the violator in the act and also provide a clear shot of the license plate.

The cameras will be placed on only a handful of buses.

Cardi presented the board with a study that said across the country the passing rate is approximately one person per bus per day.

“When a bus stops and that stop-arm goes out, everybody seems to be in a very big hurry in this country and they go right by that stop-arm. As a result of that, there are a lot of problems that are occurring, mainly children being hit,” Cardi said

He told the board that 24 children a year are killed by drivers who do not stop for buses.

“The laws are in place, and they’ve been in place across the country for years. The problem is enforcing those laws because it’s he said, she said unless there is a police officer on site,” Cardi said.

The cameras on the buses would link back to Student Guardian’s monitoring site, where someone monitors the video live. If a person is seen illegally passing a school bus, Student Guardian sends that footage to the Naugatuck Police Department. The police have the final say as to whether or not it was an illegal passing, and can issue a summons accordingly.

Cardi told the board that there is a reason to have the buses equipped with cameras beyond the safety of the students.

Student Guardian will do a road study, identify which buses should have the cameras placed on them, do the installation, and any necessary repairs to the cameras at no cost to the borough.

Cardi said the company can do this at no cost to the borough is that it receives some of the revenue from every ticket issued.

“It is 100 percent violator paid,” Cardi said.

The borough would still receive a portion of the fine as well. A driver who passes a bus in Connecticut faces a $450 fine, of which the borough would receive $125 under the deal.

“I’m sure we would all agree that it is really about safety, but there is an incremental revenue stream there. Right now these fines are not being issued because these violators are not being caught for passing school buses. So this is actually found dollars,” Cardi said.