Prince George's County school buses get extra set of 'eyes'

LANDOVER, Md. (NewsChannel 8) – Just in time for the start of the new academic year, Xerox is supplying 20 CrossSafe cameras for use on school buses in Prince George’s County, at no cost to the school district.

Prince George’s County Police say 180 traffic tickets were given out in 2013 to drivers who did not stop for school buses. So far this year, 94 tickets have been given out.

The new CrossSafe cameras are part of a new pilot program aimed at catching drivers who zoom past school buses. Police will get a copy of the video and decide if an actual violation has occurred.

"We’re not going to be out there with a tape measure, obviously, looking for 20 feet, but if they pass the school bus or get close enough that it causes a hazard, we’re going to recognize that violation," said PGPD Major Robert Liberati.

Violators will receive a $125 fine, but no points on their driver’s licenses.

"This, again, is opposed to a ticket that, if it was issued by a police officer, would be $570," said Maj. Liberati.

Violation revenues will be split between the county and Xerox; Prince George’s County will receive 30 percent, Xerox 70 percent.

"We would love to see no tickets go out, because that means no one’s passing our buses, and everyone’s obeying the law and our children are safe," said Mark Dreszer, supervisor of garage operations for Prince George's County Public Schools.

Michael Rudder, who has been driving PGCPS buses for 18 years, hopes drivers will finally notice the warning signs.

"I could be picking up your child, or somebody else's child that’s a neighbor [who] got run over," he said.

Police plan to continue with usual patrols to monitor violators as well.

Other counties have also used bus cameras, including Montgomery, Frederick and Charles. If the program is successful in Prince George’s County, it may be expanded.