CANTON. Ohio (WJW) — A warning to distracted drivers at the start of the new school year, the Canton City School District is very serious about identifying those who drive past a bus while it is picking up or dropping off students.
It is something drivers say they see every day, sometimes twice or three times on each route.
“I’ve had a driver pull up to an elementary school to offload, and we have had a driver pass on the right and we grabbed the backpack literally grabbed a second graders backpack,” said Transportation Director Nicole Kiser.
“Some people are on their phones, but some people just aren’t paying attention,” said Sheri Clemson who has been driving school buses for eight years. “I’ve had everything from people screaming at me like I’ve done something wrong to just completely ignoring me as if the bus isn’t there.”
Canton City Schools’ 77 buses transport about 5,600 kids every school day. To prevent something disastrous from happening, the district has installed new cameras on each of its 77 buses.
“We cross a lot of kids, there’s a lot of traffic in the city. We are all inner city, and it just seems to be more and more people are a lot more careless and feel more privileged to pass a bus,” said Kiser. “Nobody wants to get stuck behind a school bus, and nobody wants to wait on a school bus, so when they see that stop, they just want to go because they know we are going to stop at the next block.”
The cameras will provide a clear image of a car and its license as it drives past a deployed stop sign. But the cameras, which face both back and forward, will also give the district a clear image of the driver.
“In the state of Ohio, you can’t issue a citation unless you can actually identify the driver in the car, so if they were in a lineup, the bus driver would have to say ‘yes it was this person I know that for sure’,” said Kiser.
The cameras not only give the district a clear image of what is happening outside of the buses, but the package also includes multiple cameras that capture high-resolution images of everything that happens inside the bus.
“The cameras that we have now we can actually zoom in just like you do on your cell phone; the pixilation isn’t there and I can see a piece of gum on the ground,” said Kiser.
Kiser said the fine for passing a bus while it is stopped to drop off or pick up kids is $500. But the district does not get any of the money from the fines, so for the schools, the only incentive to have the cameras on a bus is for the safety of the children, not because it is a “money grab.”
“It’s not a joke if you see the sign stop; stop if you see the sign because we will get you now because of the cameras and a $500 fine is a pretty hefty fine to pay,” said Clemson.