Powhatan Public Schools installing security cameras to stop drivers passing illegally

The school division wants to catch drivers who are putting students at risk when they fail to stop for school buses.
The school division wants to catch drivers who are putting students at risk when they fail to stop for school buses.
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 5:28 PM EST
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POWHATAN, Va. (WWBT) - Powhatan Public Schools will now be installing security cameras on their buses in an effort to keep students safe.

The school division wants to catch drivers putting students at risk when they fail to stop for school buses.

The school system’s Director of Transportation, Andy West, says the district surveyed its bus drivers last month.

Bus drivers kept track of how many cars passed school buses illegally. In one week alone, West says there were 35 violations.

“We don’t want to see any of our kiddos get hurt out there,” West said.

West adds that back in September, a pickup truck hit the stop-arm of a bus while students were loading onto it.

“It’s horrible. Just horrible. That could’ve been a child out there. That is not something that we want to see. I’m sure a bus driver, in that instance, if something like that were to happen, they would be devastated,” West said.

Among many of those bus drivers is Tabatha Stringfield.

She covers the longest route, covering 160 miles per day.

“We’re finding a lot of people are distracted, or they just don’t care, and they’ll look right at you and just keep going,” said Stringfield.

Fueled with frustration, Stringfield and other bus drivers voiced their concerns to the school board and Powhatan Sheriff’s Office over the last year.

“I know as a mom, and as a bus driver, if a child got killed, I could probably never be able to work again. I couldn’t deal with that,” Stringfield said.

Now, Powhatan County leaders are giving the green light for schools to mount cameras on the side of buses. The Powhatan County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance last month that would allow the school board to implement this security system.

“Is it really worth a child’s life? Could you really live with that for the rest of your life, hurting or killing a child,” Stringfield said.

The cameras will record the violator’s license plates and be sent to Powhatan Sheriff’s Office for review.

West says the installation also comes at zero costs for the county, as the pilot program will be funded through fines paid by violators.

West says the school division hopes to have a few security cameras installed by the end of this month.