Harsher School Bus Enforcement To Help Protect ‘The Children’
If you’re going to be driving the streets of Cobb County, Georgia, when the school buses are on the prowl, be extra careful when the buses are loading and unloading their precious cargo of darling little children. The “eye” on the side of the bus may be unfairly recording the actions of your vehicle!
Thanks to the Cobb County school board, a private company, American Traffic Solutions, has been authorized to issue hefty $300 citations for drivers caught illegally passing school buses when the buses are stopped while loading or unloading children. The monitoring will be handled via external cameras mounted on the side of select school buses in high risk and high traffic areas.
Normally, I don’t have a problem when police pull over and issue traffic tickets for law breakers. Those people who run red lights, fail to yield, cannot maintain their lane, and generally drive like a jackass deserve to be given a citation. But that’s as long as the police themselves are doing the monitoring and policing of bad drivers, and not some third party company watching via photos or video clips.
I’m not sure what bothers me more about the deal with a private company issuing tickets: the fact that the ticketing process has a MAJOR FLAW, or that this was done merely for “. . . the safety of the children“?
A flaw you say? Really?
When you illegally pass the school bus at a bus stop, the bus driver presses a button and the camera catches a picture of your vehicle and the license plate. How does the company (in this case American Traffic Solutions) identify and ticket the DRIVER?
Answer – It can’t. The DRIVER of the car does NOT receive the ticket. The traffic ticket is mailed to the OWNER of the car. It is therefore the responsibility of the vehicle’s OWNER to pay the citation ($300 in this case), whether that person committed the crime or not.
This is the same flaw with red-light cameras currently in place throughout the metro Atlanta area (along with other cities throughout the country). It’s the owner of the vehicle who receives the traffic ticket and not necessarily the driver. Therefore, no punishment is actually noted on the driver’s record, and the vehicle’s owner is required to pay a financial penalty.
Naturally, such a program of targeting vehicle’s owners and not necessarily the drivers is very controversial. Unfortunately, a flaw such as that isn’t stopping cities and counties from taking the concept a step further, such as targeting people who illegally pass school buses. Yes, that problem with drivers making illegal passes around the school buses needs to be addressed, but this is NOT how to solve the problem.
Instead of actually doing something about the school bus problem, the school board is taking the easy route and allowing a private company to not only issue citations, but also keep 75% of the $300 fine (that’s $225 per ticket going to the company, assuming my math is correct). The 25% of the ticket fee that the local government collects is just another easy revenue stream, whether it supposedly fixes the problem or not.
According to the AJC article, the 75% fee that American Traffic Solutions keeps from each ticket goes toward the cost of installing and maintaining their camera system. Well, at $225 a pop, it shouldn’t take very long at all now to collect the cost of the cameras, shouldn’t it? The AJC article stated that a 2011 pilot program in Cobb County used cameras on 102 buses and caught 871 violators. Assuming that each violator paid the fine, that means that American Traffic Solutions would have kept $195,975 of the $261,300 collected in citations. The Cobb County government, on the other hand, would have only received $65,325 from those citations.
Despite only receiving 25% of the citation, that $65K is a nice figure considering that the county is basically sitting back and collecting while somebody else does the dirty work. Sure, there’s some minor filing and other paperwork that needs to be done when the American Traffic Solutions company mails the police department evidence of the violators, but that’s nothing compared to actually having a few cops on the streets and enforcing driving laws during certain hours of the day.
Think of how much more extra “revenue” the county could be collecting if more private companies enforced traffic laws. Can I set up a camera and record idiot drivers who run stop signs? I’ll be fair and only keep 50% of the ticket as my payment.
Speaking of laws targeting the owners of vehicles and not necessarily the drivers / violators, it looks like the illegal parking fee in downtown Atlanta is on the rise again. Have fun when trying to park downtown!
“. . . THE SAFETY OF THE CHILDREN.“
This system of remote monitoring bad drivers is apparently okay because, according to an idiot parent in the AJC’s article, this is all about “ . . . the safety of the children.“ That’s right, folks. We’re now seeing another big step forward to even more regulation all because of the children, those precious little snowflakes who need the constant attention and supervision by overaggressive helicopter parents.
The statement mentioning this program being for the safety of the children is completely ridiculous.
First of all, having a camera in place isn’t going to do jack squat if a motorist accidentally hits a child who’s crossing the road at a school bus stop. It’s not like people are going to suddenly remember that the school bus might have a camera installed and they’re going to hit the brakes and stop. Nor is it going to help when people drive even worse around school buses, tying up traffic because they’re terrified to pass the bus those many instances where it’s SAFE and LEGAL to do so.
Second, we already have laws in place regarding driving around school buses. The problem is that today’s drivers are both ignorant of many laws and, more importantly, distracted by everything but safely driving their car or truck. Cameras aren’t going to fix either of those problems! Neither will receiving a citation in the mail from an incident that may have happened weeks ago. Sadly, many of today’s ignorant drivers are going to get worse as they teach their children their terrible driving “skills.” This is compounded when tickets are mailed to the owners of vehicles and not necessarily the drivers, thus taking away the responsibility of driving a car safely.
Third, no matter what, organizations and jurisdictions will continue issuing more laws and regulations to help protect “the children.” Thanks to the growing number of idiot parents and equally stupid children with no common sense or courtesy, more and more of these laws and regulations will have to be issued.
- Is it necessary to have strict enforcement of school zone speed limits at middle or high schools when the students are old enough to look for traffic or even drive cars? Apparently it is.
- Is it necessary to have volunteer bus monitors who bad students will still verbally harass and intimidate? Apparently it is.
- Is it necessary to remove games like dodge ball or even forbid students from running on a playground because one of them might fall and get hurt? Apparently it is.
- Is it necessary for every damn parent in the neighborhood to wait at the school bus stop each morning and afternoon (and block traffic like they own the place), and also carry home the kid’s backpack? Apparently it is.
What laws should be next to help benefit “the children”?
- How about making it a law for all children’s meals to be free at fast food joints and restaurants? After all, children need to eat. Making them pay for a meal is unfair and might make some children go hungry, and we can’t allow that, can we?
- How about a law granting children free admission to public pools and private water parks such as White Water? It’s hot in the summer and children need a way to cool themselves. We don’t want to risk exposing the children to heat stroke or even breaking a sweat. Therefore they must be allowed free admission to cool themselves in a pool or water park. Keep some drinks ready because they’ll be thirsty, too. Maybe some snacks as well.
- How about a law making arcade games free? Some parents cannot afford the disposable income for their children to play video games in an arcade, and it most likely hurts the children’s feelings. Since those hurt feelings can lead to further mental and developmental problems, all of those games must be free for all children. After all, it’s for the (mental) health of the children.
- How about the world just bowing down to children and those overprotective parents who have little snot-nosed brats? Stores should designate all front parking spaces for parents with children (some already do). Minivans, SUVs and soccer moms should always have right-of-way on the roads. Children should be allowed to run rampant and “express themselves” in public like the wild animals many parents allow them to behave.
Welcome to today’s society, folks. Ain’t it grand?