Stop-Arm Citations Surpass 2K Mark
The Cobb Board of Education was updated this week on a new measure designed to protect school bus riders.
More than 2,000 citations have been issued to Cobb motorists who ignore stop-arm warnings around school buses, Cobb Board of Education members were told this week.
In a briefing at Wednesday's board work session, Chris Ragsdale, the Cobb County School District's deputy superintendent for operations, said a majority of the 2,200 citations issued thus far remain outstanding.
He said 950 citations have been paid, resulting in an estimated income of $16,598 to the school district. Eighteen citations have gone to court and four have been thrown out, according to Ragsdale's figures, which were requested by Post 5 board member David Banks of Northeast Cobb.
"We're not looking for revenue," Ragsdale said. "This project is about safety."
The three-way agreement reached last summer between Cobb schools, Cobb County government and American Traffic Solutions was done to strengthen enforcement of stop-arm provisions resulting from the 2009 death of Mountain View Elementary School student Karla Campos.
As she exited a school bus on Davis Road near Aberdeen Road, the five-year-old kindergartener stepped onto a sidewalk and was struck by a car that did not stop.
Under the agreement, ATS pays for and installs exterior cameras on buses to capture license plate information used to issue citations to violators. All three parties split the revenue from the fines, which are $300 for a first offense, $750 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third offense.
Cobb schools and government split 25 percent of the money, with ATS keeping 75 percent.
Last month the Cobb Board of Commissioners was told that an estimated $58,000 in citation fines had been collected in November and December in the first two months of the agreement.
On Wednesday, Ragsdale told school board members that ATS thus far has installed 102 of the 200 school bus cameras called for in the contract.
Buses installed with the cameras have been moved around to areas of the county where violations have been more frequent, he said.
"Right now I believe we're achieving success," Ragsdale said. "I believe we've been doing a good job of educating the community and that's why the number of citations hasn't been what we anticipated."
Ragsdale clarified some of the stop-arm provisions that have caused confusion for some drivers.
He said that motorists are not required to stop when traveling in the opposite direction on a divided (median) highway. But they must stop when headed in the opposite direction from a stopped school bus on a major road that is separated by reversible turn lanes.
He also told board members that "there are no ties" to school district's share of citation revenue.
Board member Kathleen Angelucci suggested that the money might be used for further safety and public awareness of the stop-arm measures, but the board took no action.