VERSAILLES — It may be ignoring the stop sign and red flashers or not knowing what to do, but too many drivers are putting students at risk, and one area school district is taking action.
“Student safety is a priority,” said Aaron Moran, Versailles Village Schools Superintendent in regards to the recent installation of cameras on all 12 of their district buses. The district has a little more than half of their 1,340 students riding school buses. Already this year three drivers have run red lights with multiple cars passing buses on double-lines.
“The issue – we’ve got a lot of people driving unsafe,” said Moran. He shared how the cameras, mounted outside the bus take high-quality, high-definition video and pictures. “Our goal isn’t to write tickets. Our goal is to make sure our kids are safe.”
Moran was joined on a school morning along with Bruce Heft, On-Board Instructor, Mark Humphreys, Versailles Police Chief, and Sergeant Shawn Trissel with the Darke County Sheriff’s Office. Their work is an effort to deter drivers from making illegal maneuvers that put children at risk when sharing the road with a school bus.
The close calls are every parent’s worst nightmare. Moran shared how one parent watched as their child’s bus came to a stop. The bus stop arm was extended, red flashers activated, and yet a semi ran straight through.
“She thought she had lost her kid,” said Moran. Fortunately, the bus driver had kept the child on the bus when they determined the semi was not about to stop.
Heft shared a similar situation but with two semis running his “reds.”
When drivers make illegal maneuvers, bus drivers feel helpless, explained Heft. They may not know the make of the car, for example, or misread the license plate. It is a tense situation when a child’s life is at risk. However, technology will now assist the district with the cameras able to capture video and picture in both directions. If the driver hasn’t a plate on the front of their vehicle, the camera will capture it from the back.
The cameras are high-definition, the pictures crisp and clear. Moran shared a video from one of the school buses on a laptop. He stopped the video and zoomed in on a license plate without any loss in picture quality.
The video runs in a three-day loop. If a driver makes an illegal maneuver, the bus driver need only hit a button that creates a file of the incident. That file is then sent directly to Moran’s office computer and an app on his cell phone. He can then forward the video to local authorities, and it is a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to infractions regarding school buses.
According to Humphreys, the Versailles Police Department patrols outside the school twice a day with no problems so far noted in town. However, “if you pass a school bus in town, it is a no-tolerance policy,” said Humphreys.
Sgt. Trissel stated violations are immediately followed up on and that the technology is “a great addition to the school bus.”
The tech is a PRO-VISION® HD System that utilizes Wi-Fi to automatically upload files from the school bus once it pulls into the range of the school’s network. It is used in a variety of transit, commercial, and law enforcement vehicles.
When asked if other schools should consider similar tech, Moran stated that it is, “another set of eyes to help make sure your kids are safe.”
Reach reporter Bethany J. Royer-DeLong at 937/548-3330 or email email@example.com. Read more news, features, and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.