Jones County school bus cameras capture reckless drivers

Jones County school bus cameras capture reckless drivers

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Thanks to Nathan's Law, there are harsher penalties for drivers who pass up a stopped school bus.

"This happens every day in Jones County," said Nathan's Legacy Foundation President Lori Key McJohnson. "One of our buses in Jones County on a daily basis gets passed while either loading or unloading our children."

Just Friday, one Jones County man was charged for passing a stopped school bus. Police said elementary students from East Jones were in the process of unloading. Chad Davis was also charged for a suspended driver's license, open container, and driving under the influence. Sandersville police said his blood alcohol level registered at .17, more than twice the legal limit.

"Take all of the other circumstances of this one situation away other than a school bus was illegally passed," said McJohnson.  

Thanks to Nathan's Legacy Foundation, six school districts in Mississippi now have cameras to capture drivers who pass stopped school buses.

"We're able to actually capture the image of the person inside, the tag, I mean four lanes over you can get that tag number," said Johnson.

Several Jones County buses are now equipped with not just one, but four cameras. The transportation department said the cameras activate when the lights are activated and when the bus is in the process of stopping. The cameras also track the bus drivers route, show their stops, and even show how fast they are driving.

"From August to October I would guess that we actually went to 15 court hearings, but you've got to understand those are the people who chose not to pay the fine and go to court," said McJohnson.  

McJohnson said in Mississippi, approximately 3,000 to 5,000 times a day someone passes a stopped school bus illegally.

"We have had incidents where they come around the door side," said McJohnson.  

She said parents should be concerned, but can help avoid a tragic situation similar to what happened to her child, Nathan Key.

"Help our bus drivers by making sure that all of our children understand the correct hand signals and explain to them that their bus drivers are just like their teachers in the classrooms, they must obey their bus driver," said McJohnson.

McJohnson said the first offense begins at $350 up to $750. She said another Jones County resident will be in court this week for passing up a stopped school bus charge.