Jones County Schools implementing school bus cameras to protect students

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GRAY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Several school buses in Jones County are now upgraded to crack down on dangerous drivers.

The buses are equipped with cameras that will catch people passing stopped buses. Bus drivers say violators are a big problem and the cameras should help protect students.

“This right here. I think this is a blessing,” Charles Calloway, a bus driver, said while looking at the cameras.

Calloway says picking up and dropping off students is a challenge, not because of the demand of the job, but because he’s constantly looking for drivers not paying attention.

“Some of the routes I go on, like 159, they’ve got big trucks. They pass my bus all the time,” he said.

Now there will be another set of “eyes” looking to catch violators.

The school district installed cameras onto the sides of about 10% of the school buses in its fleet.

“In the last few years, we see distracted driving is a major issue,” Wendy Vaughn, Jones County Schools’ Transportation Director, said.

Cameras were put on buses that have busy routes or often have an issue with violators. In the last month, bus drivers in the county have spotted dozens of people speeding passed stopped buses as they were on their routes.

“You’ve got a lot of drivers that they’re either on a cell phone or they’re preoccupied with something else,” Calloway said.

Vaughn says while the school system may be small in comparison to other districts, students safety, no matter where you are, is important.

“A bus driver’s attention is supposed to be on the safety on the student loading and unloading off the bus,” Vaughn said.

The cameras are part of a program, Gatekeeper Systems Inc., where the school district got the equipment for free. If any violators get caught by both law enforcement and the company, some of the profits will go back into the school district.

“This was a good fit for our school system,” Vaughn said.

Calloway says while having the cameras on his bus is comforting, he knows more needs to be done.

“Even though the camera is there, it’s still not safe to just step across,” he said.

He adds he and his fellow drivers need to stay alert and also look out for pedestrians.

Vaughn says Jones County plans on issuing tickets beginning next month.

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(478) 745-4141 ext. 311 Skyler joined the 41 NBC News Team in April 2013. He anchors the news at 6 p.m. and also covers stories going on throughout the day. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb right outside of Atlanta. Before heading to Middle Georgia, Skyler worked as a stage manager for WSB- TV in Atlanta. Skyler graduated from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Multimedia Communication. He went to school initially to be an architect, but one step inside of the student radio station changed everything. While at Georgia Southern, he was exposed to radio and television and became the Program Director of the student radio station and was a part of a team that received a Southeast Regional student Emmy for their work on the program "Inside Georgia Southern Football." Skyler anchored and reported for Georgia Southern University's "Eagle News." There he covered the 2010 midterm elections live as well as reported on stories in the community. In the Spring 2012, Skyler interned for Clear Channel in Los Angeles, California. Skyler is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. In his free time, you can find Skyler watching the latest movies and reading up on all things in Hollywood. He also loves spending time with his family and friends and finding inspirational quotes. He loves telling stories about politics, tax dollars at work in the community, and highlighting people and business who don’t normally get the spotlight. If you have any story ideas, email Skyler at shenry@41nbc.com.