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Ordinance advances to install video cameras on Chesterfield school buses

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CHESTERFIELD, Va. -- The plan to install video cameras on Chesterfield school buses to deter drivers from illegally passing buses, is now in the hands of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors.

On Tuesday night, the Chesterfield School Board voted unanimously to ask county supervisors to pass an ordinance that would make it possible for the school district to install an automated stop arm enforcement system on 20% of the district's school bus fleet.

While a Virginia law allows localities to issue citations to the registered owners of photographed vehicles as a civil penalty which carries a $250 fine, there is currently no ordinance for Chesterfield County.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16 children under the age of 19 are killed each year getting on or off buses.  One half of the victims are between the ages of five and seven.

In December 2013, Chesterfield school leaders conducted a pilot program by installing stop arm cameras on five buses for a period of 32 days. In that time frame, 216 violators were identified.

Chesterfield school leaders say there is no cost to CCPS for the purchase or maintenance of the system, however a law enforcment officer would be needed to review vidoes and issue citations.

Once the Board of Supervisors passes an ordinance, county leaders say they'll begin the procurement process to find a vendor.

Enid Whittman, the mother of a Chesterfield County second grader, says the program would help put several parents at ease.

"If putting cameras on buses is a way to deter people from going around the bus, I think it's a great idea because safety comes first," Whittman says.  "It's that simple."

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