Newport News school buses may soon capture speeding cars

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Vehicles plowing through school bus stop arms has parents like Eric Pizarro worried about the start of the school year.

“You wanna make sure that they get to school in one piece and come back in one piece,” Pizarro told News 3.

Below is a list of reckless driving citations issued to local drivers last school year for this infraction:

“We knew it was a problem and drivers always bring it up,” Newport News Public Schools Transportation Director Shay Coates said.

In response, the district is looking to install stop-arm cameras on their buses.

“Once the driver makes a stop and the stop-arm is deployed, the camera automatically goes into motion,” Coates explained.

They recently conducted three pilot programs, the final study was for three months from March to June 2016.

The results were shocking.

“During that time, we were on spring break and June was only half a month – so it’s probably less than three months that we had over 700 violations and that was very telling” said Coates.

However, since most violations aren’t caught on camera or seen by police, only ten citations were issued last school year.

So when are your kids most at risk?

According to their pilot, it’s around 2 p.m. on Fridays.

“Fridays, people getting off of work or getting off early. And, it gets pretty busy,” Coates told News 3.

He also said their most problematic areas are Jefferson Avenue and Warwick Boulevard.

This is how it works - if you’re caught in Newport News, police will determine if you violated state code, if so did you will receive a citation and $250 fine.

This isn’t just happening in Hampton Roads.

A recent report found in just 29 states and D.C., there were likely 14 million violations last year school.

In Virginia Beach, expect to see extra police patrols as school starts.

Back in 2012, we told you about a driver blew past a stopped school bus with flashing lights, striking a father and his three children.

“Not paying attention is generally the biggest reason,” said Virginia Beach Police Sergeant Brian Ricardo. “In a hurry is another reason. In a hurry trying to beat the stopped school bus.”

School officials in both Currituck and Dare Counties said their entire bus fleet has the stop-arm cameras.

However, Newport News is the only district in Hampton Roads working to install them now.

It’s something Pizarro feels all children deserve.

“If you’re violating the law, I think you need to be held accountable” the father of four said.

Before the cameras can be added onto Newport News buses, city council will have to approve an ordinance.

School officials say they also need assurance they will be able to work with the NNPD.

Money collected from the citations will be divided between the cameras vendor and the school district.