Russell County looking to add cameras to school buses - WRBL

Russell County looking to add cameras to school buses

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SEALE, Ala. -

At Tuesday's Russell County school board work session Sheriff Heath Taylor made his case for why the district needs cameras on seven of the county's school buses. He says it's all about safety.

While much of Russell County consists of rural roads, there are some extremely dangerous highways near schools in the district, which is why the sheriff is looking to technology for help.

58 school buses deliver kids to and from school in Russell County each day. Veteran bus driver Elizabeth Anderson says they definitely need help catching the large number of people who fly past them regularly.

"It's hard to see the tag number after they've gone by you," says Anderson, "so you can't do anything about it." Bus drivers can only call in a description of a car to their supervisor, rarely resulting in a citation.

Anderson says the violators simply don't think about how dangerous running a school bus stop sign can be, especially when kids aren't paying attention. She says, "Although we teach them that they are supposed to wait and look both ways before they get ready to cross, watch the driver and the driver will help escort them across, they never do that."

Since installing the 50 stop arm cameras in Muscogee County, the number of violations has been cut in half. They hope to have a similar effect next door.

Sheriff Taylor wants to install seven cameras on the county buses that travel routes with the worst traffic, and put cameras in school zones to catch speeders.

He says, "We have the ability now through technology to put up some cameras and make those school zones safer for our kids coming and going. To me it's a no brainer."

School board members were receptive when he mentioned that it wouldn't cost any money. The camera manufacturer Redflex simply takes a percentage of each citation issued by the cameras.

The sheriff suggests using the rest of the money to pay for more deputies in the schools, as there's currently only one paid for by the school board.

"Our system is growing, our county is growing, the department's growing," Taylor said to the board, "and we need more than one deputy in our whole county school system."

At next week's meeting the school board will vote for Redflex to come in and study the bus routes and school zones before installing the cameras.

The sheriff also updated the school board on the land they donated to the county commission for an ambulance service at the corner of Russell County High School. He says construction for that facility will most likely be on hold until the end of the year. The service will make emergency vehicles more accessible to certain parts of the county.

Representatives from the county commission were also at the work session to discuss taking over a lease for the Ladonia Sports Complex. They say the current lessees are willing to relinquish their contract, allowing the commission to invest in the complex.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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