Are school bus cameras worthwhile for safety or will they wind up causing privacy problems and higher traffic accident rates similar to traffic cameras?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-School bus cameras can be worthwhile for safety as long as the school district in question has the full support of the school board and parents residing in the district. If parents are concerned about the safety of their children and provide their consent and school boards initiate the action, then cameras should be used.  School security officials and local law enforcement need to be in sync with what the school board, parents and the community demand regarding safety on school buses.

When any child’s safety is at risk, as is that of the bus driver, then cameras are a good deterrent for any inappropriate actions occurring on the bus during pickup, take home and other excursions. If children and unauthorized riders on a school bus commit assaults, bullying and other more serious crimes, those infractions need to be recorded and turned over to school security and law enforcement for viewing and possible prosecution of perpetrators.

With the number of children using school bus transportation to and from school, their vulnerability concerning possible inside and outside attacks and other incidents is heightened. Video cameras are more and more common on vehicles transporting students, and the latest technology is such that it ensures protection of students from any kind of altercation. With the ability to monitor a number of actions of both passengers, bus drivers and others accessing the bus, the camera’s footage can be used to confirm any kind of suspicious actions, incidents or accidents that have occurred.

Cameras on school buses are also critical in keeping track of locations that the bus travels along as well, so if a bus strays from its normal route for unknown reasons, school and law officials can quickly detect what has happened.  Camera monitoring also keeps bus drivers on various routes in check for any irregularities in driving, interactions with children, and possible traffic accident involvement.

As far as school bus cameras causing privacy issues and higher traffic accident rates, a school district’s enactment of the use of bus cameras is a valid declaration of safety taking precedence over privacy.  Parents and others who raise issues of privacy because of camera footage that they feel is invasive need to be aware of school district, school board and safety policy issues concerning camera monitoring prior to allowing their children to use the bus as a means of transportation.  If they don’t want their children subject to video monitoring, then alternate means of transportation should be considered.

The issue of higher traffic accidents being of concern with school bus cameras is one that is subject to what school district policies and law enforcement have rendered to be of value in preventing and solving possible accidents. If camera use can monitor and detect improper driving, their use is of benefit, and if accidents do occur, there are visual records of what happened in the accident and how it could have been deterred or prevented.  If improper driving is found to be the problem, and bus drivers have been proven to have caused accidents, then they should be required to participate in refresher driving classes,  advanced driver training, defensive driving courses or be asked to resign.

School bus cameras are worthwhile for safety and can insure protection for both the children using them and the drivers responsible for their safe travel. Those in disagreement with the use of bus cameras for privacy and accident-related issues should seek out other means of transportation for their children and understand that every child deserves protection from any number of incidents, dangerous or otherwise, which can occur on a school bus.  If a bus camera can deter or prevent those incidents from taking place, or capture on tape any criminal activity that affects those using the bus, then camera use is well worth sacrificing privacy for safety.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-The city of Austin, Texas, long one of my favorite places on earth, made the national news recently over its implementation of cameras on school buses which are designed to catch those who refuse to heed the myriad of things that blink and beep to tell you the bus is stopped and speed blithely by, frequently mowing down a tot or two in the process.

The usual cast of civil libertarians came out against the plan, comparing it to the red-light cameras which have met with questionable success around the country.  Those devices have been firmly linked to a higher incidence of accidents when people bent on running the light lose their nerve and slam on the brakes.  Part of the problem with the cameras is that there are almost always questions to be answered. Was the light red? Was the car in the intersection?

With the bus cameras, however, these issues are non-factors.  The cameras don’t come on until the stop arm is fully extended, so if your plate is caught by the all-seeing eye, you’re guilty.  The fines are the same as the usual ones for speeding in school zones or passing a stopped bus, which means expensive.

Austin’s not the first city to try something like this, but it’s the most tech-savvy metropolis to make a stab at it, and the city fathers are getting it right. I’d like to see this taken nationwide, and not just because I have bus-riding kids of my own.  Passing a stopped bus is simply inexcusable.  If you don’t see it, you’re obviously far too preoccupied with your phone, bagel or whatever. If you DO see it and still choose to drive by, you’re simply a complete inconsiderate jackass who should be dragged from your vehicle and publicly flogged.

 

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-While it is lamentable that we have become a society inundated with security cameras, they serve as useful deterrents to crime for businesses that utilize them. Their value on school buses is less certain because serious crime on school buses is rare. Using cameras to verify misbehavior, bullying, or other acts typical of kids sends a message to young minds that Big Brother is always watching and that being under constant surveillance is a fact of life.

In this nation’s quest to raise responsible, creative, productive members of society, are we opting for the “safe route” of training obedient worker bees who fear stepping out of line or even thinking radical thoughts because they are constantly being monitored, and therefore theoretically judged, by some unseen Establishment?

The privacy problem issue is also critical because the camera is recording the actions of innocent children as well as the rare troublemaker. Should everyone be afraid to be themselves for fear of some innocent and legal action being misinterpreted or ridiculed? This is comparable to the TSA forcing everyone through the screening process at airports in hopes of catching the one person out of millions who might actually be a terrorist.

School bus drivers might be able to drive more safely with security cameras on board because they will not become distracted by any commotion with their passengers if they know a camera is recording all the action. However, drivers should be allowed enough control of their passengers to insist on a minimum level of good behavior in order to operate the bus safely (ex: requiring all students to stay seated and not making so much noise as to make it difficult for the driver to hear traffic, horns, train crossing signals, etc.).

School bus security cameras might catch the occasional miscreant in the act and facilitate fair and just punishment, but trolling for offenders seems to be not worth the expense for most school districts. The practice should either be stopped or improved in such a way as to be cheaper and more efficient in deterring misbehavior.

 

 

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