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Lancaster County Schools install cameras on buses to catch passing drivers

The district is working out protocols with law enforcement on how they wish to punish the offenders.

LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — The Lancaster County School District is rolling out new technology to help save lives.

The district has now installed cameras on school bus stop arms to catch drivers who illegally pass a bus stopped for students.

Just in the last week, the district says there were nearly one dozen incidents of people who have driven around stopped school buses -- putting students in danger.

“Most of those infractions are in the morning when people are trying to rush and get to work,” said Bryan Vaughn, director of safety for the district.

Vaughn says most of the incidents happen in Indian Land. Daily complaints come into his office of drivers breaking the law.

Recently, the district surveyed problematic areas to see how often these incidents were occurring.

“Ten over a 2-day period but multiply that by the course of 180 days -- that turns out to be a lot of infractions,” Vaughn said.

One infraction too many is now pushing the district to crack down on offenders, leading them to put storm arm cameras on the school buses.

“The stop arm camera is located below the stop arm itself and will pick up any tags and vehicles going beside the bus," Vaughn said. "So, when a vehicle passes in this direction it’s going to record the tag going pass the bus.”

There are also cameras with audio capability installed inside of the buses that give bus drivers the opportunity to describe the person who violates school bus laws.

“That’s for evidentiary purposes,” said Vaughn.

Once the violations are recorded, the video is given to a bus supervisor who then passes the video to the safety office.

Becky Williams, a supervisor, says she has witnessed firsthand as people pass stop school buses.

“Would you rather wait two minutes, or put a child in danger,” Williams said. “It’s not worth it.”

Right now, the district is working out protocols with law enforcement on how to punish the offenders.

In South Carolina, there’s a minimum of a $500 fine for violating school bus laws, but the district is hoping to go one step beyond that.

“We want to do an intervention where we educate them on the bus laws,” Vaughn said.

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