Crime Watch: AISD bus cameras capture drivers ignoring stop arm

It's video you will only see on FOX 7. Drivers flying by AISD buses while the flashing stop arm is out.

One week from today, the district will end its warning period for a new stop-arm camera system and begin ticketing drivers for the offense.

On Thursday AISD officers got a first look at school bus stop arm violators courtesy of a new camera system.

"That guy. We can get him," pointed out one of the officers.

State law requires drivers to stop when a bus driver extends the flashing red stop sign no matter what side of the street they are on.

It is clear that some Austin drivers do not know the law or simply aren't following it.

"One, two and then that one. That's three violations," said another officer.

The camera system went live for a "warning period" on January 8th. So far 265 violations have been captured.

"It's terrifying. The numbers are high," said AISD Transportation Director Kris Hafezi.

"That's kind of shocking. We knew that we were going to have violations. During the test period last year on 30 buses we were averaging two a day per bus for about a 60 a month," said Chief Eric Mendez.

In one week warnings will cease. Tickets start rolling out on Monday, February 8th.

Camera system company, American Traffic Solutions, hosted a training for AISD officers who will review each video to determine if a ticket should be issued.

The system isn't perfect as it activates when the stop arm is activated, not when it's fully extended, but it offers way more eyes than officers can provide.

"It's a true safety issue with our students," said Mendez. "We're trying to avoid a dangerous, what could be a deadly situation."

75 buses are currently equipped, more are added weekly. Eventually a total of 300 will have the camera system.

Tickets for illegally passing one of the stop arms will cost you $300 dollars.

If you get caught, you will find a ticket in your mailbox.

"You'll be able to see the actual violation. You will see still images of your vehicle:  before the bus, passing the bus and after the bus," said Mendez.

It's an expensive fine, but if caught by an officer, you'll pay $500 dollars.

That high amount is a very real possibility.

"As we start to gather data from these stop arm cameras and we determine where our hot spots are, we'll start putting officers out there to watch those bus stops where we get those violations," said Mendez.

Compliance is the ultimate goal as it would mean a safe walk for students.

"I truly believe we took a huge, giant step toward that with this technology," said Hafezi.
 

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