DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — It’s been about eight months since Dothan City Schools implemented the child safety program — putting cameras on school buses for those who are violating the stop sign.
While it has made a huge difference, the number of citations is quite alarming.
2,700 citations have been issued in the City of Dothan for drivers who have violated the law by blowing by Dothan City School buses when the stop sign and stop arm are out for children getting on or off the bus.
“I never knew it was the epidemic that it was you see 25-30 vehicles per day running by school buses stopped with the sign extended I can tell you as the former Police Chief of Dothan the most important sign is the one on the side of the bus those are the ones who protect our children,” DCS Safety Coordinator Steve Parrish said.
In March of this year, Dothan City Schools became one of three school systems in the state to implement cameras on school buses after the state legislature passed the Alabama Bus Safety Act in 2016 to crack down on violators.
In March, DCS partnered with Angeltrax, a local video surveillance manufacturer, to put cameras on all 90 school buses that run about 60 routes in the City of Dothan.
In a video DCS shared that was caught by an Angeltrax camera in another district, you can see a car driving full speed past a school bus an inch away from hitting the child crossing the road.
Parrish says fortunately their school bus drivers haven’t witnessed a tragedy but there have been close calls in the Dothan City limits.
“In some cases it’s a reckless disregard of some of the people passing buses we’re not talking about people passing six lanes that are undivided but people coming around the bus,” Parrish says.
Parrish says 1% of the people getting the $300 citation request a court hearing.
Although the school system is not doing it for the money but for the safety of students, the over 2,000 citations have benefitted the school system while trying to tackle this issue.
“We also use these funds to beef up our driver’s ed program which has had limited resources in the past, we have bought two driver’s ed simulators and we can teach kids how to drive and be familiar with the rules of the road,” says DCS Superintendent Dr. Dennis Coe.
The Dothan City Schools transportation department says they get calls from people in the community all the time asking how and when to stop for a school bus. They say they have videos on their website illustrating how to do it the correct way.