RICHMOND, Va. - You could get a ticket if you pass a stopped school bus in Richmond, even if you don't see any officers around.
50 of Richmond's 250 school buses now have stop-arm camera systems equipped, and they are being turned on Monday morning. Each bus will have 13 cameras, which can monitor four lanes of traffic in both directions.
''It lets the driver continue to operate the bus without having to worry about getting on the radio, communicating on the radio, and still watching while driving the bus and still watching the behavior that is taking place to my back," said Tommy Kranz, Richmond's assistant Superintendent.
Each bus will also have a panic button for bus drivers, in case of emergency.
Buses have 4 cameras on the inside of the bus, and 9 more on the outside, providing a 360° view around the bus.
Previously, Richmond Public School buses only had 3 cameras total, all on the inside of the bus.
RPS says they will have all 250 of their buses equipped with the new camera's by the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.
By law, all drivers have to stop when a school bus has its stop arm out and lights on, unless a driver is separated by a physical median.
Drivers who pass a stopped school bus with its stop arm out and its lights on would be assessed a $250 fine, and video captured by the stop-arm cameras will be used to issue citations, officials said.
“The Richmond Police Department has responded in the past to children who were struck by speeding motorists or vehicle operators who failed to stop for children approaching or exiting school buses. Motorists who fail to observe the stop signs and control arms will be cited,” said Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham.
The cameras will record video and images of cars passing buses while stopped.
Force Multiplier Solutions, who installed the cameras, will then determine if there's a violation, and forward the photos and video to Richmond police.
Richmond Police will have the final say if they want to issue a ticket.
Putting the cameras on the buses doesn't cost Richmond Public Schools anything.
According to a representative for Force Multiplier Solutions, who installed the cameras, the company pays to equip the buses for free, but is compensated with some of the penalty money.