BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — With back-to-school season in full swing, the big yellow buses will soon be hitting the road in Maumee.
This year, a new infrared camera system has been installed on 10 of Maumee’s school buses, which means that any driver failing to yield when a bus is stopped could be subject to a hefty fine for the traffic violation.
“This is a statewide initiative and we support it,” said Maumee Police Lt. Jeff Siebenaler. “We believe that it is a tool that can be beneficial.”
The cameras are located just below the bus driver’s side window to capture footage of activity taking place outside of the bus while it is en route. Most of the cars that fail to yield for a stopped bus are approaching a school bus in the oncoming lane, he said.
“These cameras will record the vehicle and the license plate number and the clarity is good,” Siebenaler said.
Upon investigation by Maumee police, if a driver is found guilty of violating the law, he or she could face as much as a $500 fine and suspended driving privileges, he added.
The cameras are installed on buses with routes that are known to have issues with motorists not paying attention to the stopped buses. Last year, the district piloted the camera program by installing a camera on one of the buses.
“The safety committee gave us money for the first one and within days, the bus driver saw a vehicle run a red light and the district was able to report it to the police,” said Mary Bottoni, district supervisor of transportation and food service. “For the cost, it really is a very easy thing for us to do to increase safety.”