WALLINGFORD — Police used video footage from cameras on school buses in 2017 to cite 50 motorists for illegally passing buses and impose $22,500 in fines.
The police used footage from cameras that are mounted discretely on the school buses. The school district partnered with Redflex Traffic Systems, an Arizona company, in 2016 to install the cameras, which monitor traffic while the stop arm and flashing lights on a bus are displayed. If a motorist drives by, the camera is triggered to record footage, which is reviewed by the company and placed in a database for local police to review.
Wallingford police received footage of 103 potential violations, 50 of which resulted in a citation. In Connecticut, the fine for passing a stopped school bus is $465.
Redflex receives a share of the fines collected and some of the money also goes to the state.
The number of citations issued was a 61 percent increase from 31 citations issued in 2016. Those 31 citations resulted in $14,000 in fines.
Police Lt. Anthony DeMaio said there only a couple of buses with cameras at any given time. Redflex and the school district coordinate to move the cameras to different buses. The number of citations is largely dependent on the routes of the buses, DeMaio said.
DeMaio said last year that determining whether a violation occurred can be subjective. In situations when traffic is moving fast or there isn’t a good line of sight, it can be hard for vehicles to come to a full stop in time.
“We scrutinize the video and we make sure that there was a good line of sight and the motorist had a good opportunity to stop,” DeMaio said.
In Connecticut, motorists are required to stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of a bus and remain stopped until the bus no longer displays its red signal lights. At intersections, motorists are prohibited from turning toward a school bus that is receiving or discharging passengers. Bus drivers are required to activate flashing amber lights 100 feet before stopping.
DeMaio said the $465 fine in Connecticut is a stiff penalty, so police weigh the penalty against the need safety.
A report released by Redflex earlier this year noted that Wallingford’s daily violation average, 0.15 violations per day, is “significantly below” the national average.
The 50 violations occurred at 21 different bus stops in town. The report included a breakdown of locations where the most violations occur. Many of the violations occurred at intersections along Route 68, including points at Bertini Lane (eight citations), Pleasant Street (five), Quarry Run (four), and Grove Street (four). The intersection at North Main Street and Church Street also had four citations given. No other bus stops had more than two violations in 2017.