OREM — As students return to class, school bus drivers say too many drivers don’t stop when they are required to by law, but a new tool may reduce the number of stop-arm violators.
Drivers must stop for buses when red flashing lights are activated. The bus's stop sign is another reminder that drivers are required to stop. Last May, Utah bus drivers across the state tracked stop-arm violations. According to Sula Bearden, dispatch coordinator for the transportation department of the Jordan School District, bus drivers reported 1,012 cars who illegally blew past their stop sign while unloading kids in just one day.
But a new tool is helping police catch those drivers and send them a citation.
Lee Gillman has been driving a school bus for 51 years in the Alpine School District and nothing worries him more than seeing drivers who won't stop when children are getting on or off his bus.
“There are still people who just disregard our stop signs and our lights, and it’s scary,” Gillman said.
In the Alpine School District, bus drivers are reporting it is happening nearly every day, putting kids in danger.
“It is our job to make sure that they get to and from school safely and that includes getting on and off the bus each day,” said Joe Hayes, transportation director for the Alpine School District.
But unless a police officer is following the bus, it's nearly impossible for drivers who didn't stop to be held accountable. Until now.
“This camera is a high-definition camera,” said Shaun Adams, with the Alpine School District Transportation Department. “It’s got infrared technology on it and it's primarily angled specifically to get the vehicle’s license plate number.”
Adams oversees the cameras on all of the buses, which now include exterior cameras. He said if a driver sees a violation, all they have to do is press a button, which marks the video clips and allows them to send it to the police department within a few minutes after the driver finishes his route.
“We can see the plate, we can see the driver,” said Orem Police Lt. Craig Martinez.
The Orem Police Department said the bus footage is enough for them to track down a violator and issue a ticket. He added that drivers shouldn't count on just getting off with a warning.
"The bus driver is going to be the witness to the violation, and the camera system and pictures and video is just going to be something to back that up,” Martinez said.
Gillman says he hopes the new cameras will encourage people to stop for his lights, so he can keep his students safe.
"Honestly, I call them my kids because they are my kids, the ones that I drive all the time, they are my kids,” Gillman said.
Contributing: Aley Davis