School bus cameras capture moving violations

It’s illegal nationwide to pass a school bus stopped with flashing lights, but that doesn’t prevent Nevada drivers from doing so close to three times per bus, per day.

That’s more than triple the national rate, according to a bus driver survey released in August by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services.

The Clark County School District has 1,380 buses making 18,000 stops every day, which causes grave concern for Frank Giordano, the district’s transportation director. But he has found a way to catch the violators and make them pay.

Bus-mounted cameras.

One small camera mounted on the left side points backward and another points forward to capture vehicles that pass while the stop arm is extended. With 100 percent accuracy, the cameras can read the license plate of a vehicle traveling up to 60 mph, according to equipment provider Gatekeeper, which also provides cameras to the U.S. Air Force and Department of Homeland Security.

As of Aug. 26, the first day of school, camera systems have been in operation on two district buses where drivers have observed the most violations, Giordano said. The district now has the technology to ticket drivers, but not the authority.

Nevada law prohibits using “photographic, video or digital equipment for gathering evidence” to issue traffic tickets, unless it’s in the hand or vehicle of a police officer, such as one using a radar gun to catch speeding drivers.

The law is the reason why hundreds of cameras overlooking Nevada roads can’t be used to ticket drivers who run red lights, said Scott Magruder, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

The cameras stream live to monitor traffic flow but don’t record.

Giordano plans to push for a bill to change the law when the Legislature reconvenes in 2015. The bill would amend the law to allow for “stop-arm cameras,” as they are called. He will use the footage and statistics of illegal passings gathered this school year to make his case.

“I can’t imagine why anyone would be against this,” Giordano said.

He noted that a student hasn’t been hit or killed by an illegally passing car in Clark County — yet. But with so many violators and 100,000 students being bused every day, it’s only a matter of time.

Fatalities, pilot programs and the bus driver survey now in its third year have led to changes in states from Washington to Georgia. In Nevada, the bus driver survey reported 2,597 drivers passed school buses that were dropping off or picking up children in a single day in May.

“To me, that’s 2,597 times we got lucky,” Giordano said. “We’re trying to be proactive here, not waiting for a tragedy.”

That count was for only 974 buses, a fraction of Nevada’s school buses, but it represents an average of 2.6 illegal passes per bus every day, three times the national average of 0.77 illegal passes per bus per day. A bill came before the Nevada Legislature in 2011 seeking to repeal the law that forbids videos to be used in identifying and ticketing drivers. But it didn’t receive one hearing.

“It had no support,” said Magruder, whose transportation department lobbied for the bill in 2011 but didn’t bring it back to lawmakers in 2013. “You’re seeing less and less support.”

But the intention at that time was to have it repealed for cameras at red lights, placement the public often views as a revenue generator not intended to improve public safety.

That’s where Giordano says he may have a better chance, as has been the case in other states.

“Who doesn’t support the safety of our kids?” said Giordano, noting that if the district separates its request from a full repeal allowing red-light cameras, “people may have a whole different feeling.”

TRIED ELSEWHERE

The number of illegal bus passings has dropped in Georgia since state law­makers allowed the cameras in 2011, said Carlton Allen, director of pupil transportation for the Georgia Department of Education.

Results of the one-day survey in Georgia counted 8,102 violations in 2011. That dropped to 7,349 in 2012 and fell even further to 6,807 violations this year. “I attribute that to the cameras,” he said, but emphasizing that only a few Georgia districts have put them in place so far.

“That seems to be the way in Georgia,” Allen said. “If it works well when one district tries it, the others will follow.”

The Georgia districts that have installed the cameras haven’t had to find the money to do so, he said. Revenue from tickets is split among the district, law enforcement, whose officers review the footage and send the tickets, and the camera provider as payment.

“Districts aren’t out to get people or revenue,” Allen said. “They’re trying to change people’s behavior.”

But the verdict is still largely out on the cameras, their effectiveness and the best practice for operating the ticketing system. A similar debate involves red-light cameras allowed in 24 states and Washington, D.C.

San Diego officials had to revamp a red-light camera program after learning camera operators condensed the regular yellow-light interval to issue more tickets and generate more revenue.

To avoid that, Washington’s 2011 law allowing stop-arm cameras prohibited camera providers from receiving a cut of ticket collections. Lawmakers required companies to simply be paid for equipment and services.

no tickets from videos

A growing number of states are allowing the stop-arm cameras, but how many is unclear, as the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Trans­portation Services is working to quantify that number. Georgia was one of the first, and that was just two years ago, so there isn’t much data either, Allen said.

Washington state lawmakers passed a stop-arm camera law by an over­whelming 138-4 vote. But officials for the Washington Department of Education are aware of only two districts out of 295 that have implemented stop-arm camera systems, doing so this school year, according to Allan Jones, director of student transportation.

“We were surprised with the complexity of implementation,” he said, noting that a school district must reach an agreement with police.

And the new Washington state law says police can only be paid for the administrative cost of writing the tickets. Police don’t receive a set cut of ticket collections. All other revenue collected from tickets must be given to the school district and used explicitly for school zone safety projects.

In Nevada, drivers cited for a first-time offense for illegally passing a school bus receive a $250 to $500 ticket. It was unclear how many tickets Las Vegas police hand out for this violation because the department’s analyst wasn’t available last week.

Giordano said he isn’t pushing for the cameras based on the assumption that the district will receive ticket collections.

He is willing to be flexible and work with concerns from state lawmakers. “The current system just isn’t working,” he said.

Nevada law allows his 1,380 drivers to take the license plate number and vehicle description of anyone who illegally passes. That information is sent up the ladder. But the law says it can’t result in a ticket, just a stern note in the vehicle owner’s mailbox. And that hasn’t reduced the illegal passings witnessed by his drivers, Giordano said.

Although his camera-equipped buses still can’t go any further than a note, they will send a message to legislators, Giordano said. “I want to show them how big this is.”

Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Springs Preserve Exhibit Shows Off "Nature's Ninjas"
"Nature's Ninjas" arrives at the Springs Preserve, in an exhibit and live show featuring critters that come with natural defenses, from armadillos to snakes, poison dart frogs to scorpions and tarantulas (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossRoads of Southern Nevada psychiatric urgent care to open in Las Vegas
Jeff Iverson, who operates the nonprofit sober living facility Freedom House, is opening a private addiction treatment center that will operate a detoxification center and transitional living for substance users trying to recover. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Wayne Newton surprises burglars
Wayne Newton and his wife, Kathleen, arrived at their southeast Las Vegas home shortly before midnight on Wednesday to find two burglars inside their house. The burglars fled and were seen heading north through the property. Las Vegas police quickly set up a perimeter and launched an extensive search of the area, but the suspects were able to escape. It was unclear if the burglars got away with anything of value. Several items, under the watchful eyes of the police, were seen on the ground near the home's main driveway. Neither Newton, nor his wife, were injured. The Newtons were not available for comment.
Police Officers Turn Off Body Cameras
In four separate body camera videos from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting released Wednesday, officers in a strike team are instructed to turn their body cameras off and comply with the request.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
How long will North Korea's denuclearization take?
In Singapore, Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders asks President Donald Trump how long North Korea's denuclearization will take. White House video.
LVCVA purchase of gift cards hidden
A former LVCVA executive hid the purchase of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards in records at the agency. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, said the money was for promotional events and did not disclose that it was for gift cards. Lawson also instructed Southwest employees to submit invoices without mentioning the purchases were for the cards. More than $50,000 of the cards cannot be accounted for. The convention authority is publicly funded . Lawson recently resigned.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
Coca-Cola Bottle Purse Has 9,888 Diamonds
Designer Kathrine Baumann and jeweler Aaron Shum set the Guinness World Record for most diamonds (9,888) set on a handbag. The Coca Cola bottle-shaped purse was on display at the Coca Cola Store on the Strip. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sentosa Island a pleasure resort with a pirate past
The site of Tuesday's U.S.-North Korea summit is known for theme parks and resorts. But before that, it was known as a pirate island. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge Sandra Pomrenze's comment about girl's hair
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
East Las Vegas home damaged by fire
Clark County Fire Department crews responded to a house fire in east Las Vegas Thursday morning. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
911 call: Mom tries to get to son shot at Route 91
A woman stuck on the interstate during the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, tries to get to her son. 911 call released by Las Vegas police.
Las Vegas 911 caller reports people shot on Oct. 1
A 911 caller on Oct. 1, 2017, reports several people shot at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
911 call from woman under stage in Las Vegas shooting
A 911 call from a woman underneath the stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival during the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting.
LVCVA facing scandal over gift cards
LVCVA is facing a growing scandal over airline gift cards. LVCVA bought $90,000 in Southwest Airline gift cards between 2012 and 2017. Now auditors can’t account for more than $50,000 of the cards. CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and his family used $16,207 in gift cards on 56 trips. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, was responsible for buying and distributing the cards. He recently resigned.
Siblings separated in the foster care system get a day together
St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Cowabunga Bay Cares program partnered to bring 75 siblings together for the day to play on the water slides and in the pools at the Henderson water park. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People flee the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Las Vegas police released footage from a camera on Mandalay Bay of the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Aaliyah Inghram awarded medal of courage
Aaliyah Inghram, a 10-year-old girl who was shot while protecting her 18-month-old brother and 4-year-old cousin during a shooting on May 8, awarded medal of courage. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegans Pack Public Lands Open House
A crowd filled the Clark County Library conference room Tuesday afternoon where Clark County officials hold their first -- and possibly only -- public meeting on plans to open almost 39,000 acres of federal land for development just outside the Las Vegas metropolitan area. County commissioners are set to vote June 19 on a potentially controversial resolution seeking federal legislation that would set aside tens of thousands of acres for conservation while giving Nevada’s largest community more room to grow. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police search Henderson Constable's home and office
Las Vegas police served search warrants Tuesday at Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell's home and office. The investigation was sparked by a Las Vegas Review-Journal story showing Mitchell wrote himself $70,000 in checks, used ATMs at casinos and video poker bars, and traveled to places his adult children live. All using county funds. Police refused to comment but Mitchell's attorney said he did nothing wrong.
Vegas Golden Knights fans shows his colors for community
Vegas Golden Knights superfan Lynn Groesbeck has wrapped his new truck with Knights logos and images. He loves how the Golden Knights are bringing community back to Las Vegas. People stop him on the street to take photos and share his support. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Acting Coach Daryl Morris on His Craft
Acting coach Daryl Morris, whose father Bobby was Elvis Presley's conductor in Las Vegas, discusses his craft and how he leads his own classes. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Constable wanted county funds to fight Review-Journal investigation
The Las Vegas Review-Journal asked for public records to investigate constable spending. But Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell hired outside counsel to fight the request. And he wanted the county to pay nearly $7,500 for those attorneys. The county declined. And records show the constable's office owes taxpayers $700,000. County officials said the money will be repaid over three years. Mitchell abandoned his re-election before the Review-Journal story ran.
BalanceVille Art Car Rides High Above First Friday
First Friday attendees got to ride in BalanceVille, a Burning Man art car that rises 50 feet in the air on a hydraulic lift. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Mecum Las Vegas Auction Draws Motorcycle Enthusiasts
Motorcycle enthusiasts descended on South Point Casino Friday for the Mecum Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction, which featured 600 vintage and collectible motorcycles and bikes. The auction is set to return to Las Vegas in January with more than 1,700 lots. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like