NORTH RIDGEVILLE--Veteran North Ridgeville school bus driver Chuck Nowak says the most frustrating part of his job is dealing with distracted or disrespectful drivers, who ignore the bus' stop sign and flashing lights when he is picking up or dropping off students.
Nowak told Fox 8, "it's just scary because they're like your kids just as much because you drive them every day and people have no regard for their life.” In response to recent fatal accidents around the country, and dozens of local cases of drivers failing to stop for buses, the North Ridgeville School District has purchased buses that have cameras mounted on the outside, that can capture video of the vehicles breaking the law.
In in the first two days, they have caught five offenders on tape, and North Ridgeville police will use the video to write citations. "There's substantial evidence that you can get a license plate number, you see the car, and the video shows exactly when those red lights come on on the bus, so there is no disputing if they ran the light or not, is it's absolutely an outstanding tool to have,” said Director of Operations Matt Yunker.
So far, the cameras are mounted on four buses in the North Ridgeville fleet, but the district’s transportation department hopes they will eventually become standard equipment. They believe the cameras and the threat of a ticket and fine will change driver attitudes, and prevent the type of distracted driver accidents that have claimed the lives of students around the country.
Superintendent Roxann Ramsey-Caserio told Fox 8, "any time there's a tragedy of any kind, it really hits home and makes you think that any given time, anything can happen and anything we can do to be proactive to maintain that safety is really a priority." If convicted of failing to stop for a school bus, drivers can face up to a $500 fine and the court has the discretion to suspend their license for up to a year. In addition, violators will be accessed two points on their license, which will drive up their insurance costs. "I don't like seeing people get fined or lose their license but I don't want to see a child get hurt,” said Chuck Nowak.