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East End News

School Bus Stop signs also known as Stop Arm

We received the following story from a neighbor. Though our neighbor’s story should serve as a cautionary tale for fraud, the Stop Arm camera system is designed to catch reckless drivers illegally passing school buses. Nevertheless, make sure you alert the proper authorities if you’re ever in fear of potential fraud.

On March 11, 2018, I drove past St.John’s Church and noticed three school buses parked on Broad St. One month later, I received a notice of violation for passing a School Bus with the Stop Sign sticking out along with a photo of my car. The notice gave a phone number to call if I wanted to contest the violation. After many attempts, I was able to talk to someone in Arizona who informed me that if I contested the violation, it would go on my driving record, I would have points placed against me and I would still have to pay a $250.00 fine. However, if I just paid the $250.00 fine that would be it. I did some investigating and found out that:

I went to court and was found innocent because the photo did not show that there were two other School Buses in front of this one without their stop signs out. There were no children loading or unloading, and the photo of my car was well past the “stop arm” when taken. The stop sign was not out when I passed the bus.

Should you get such a notice of violation, I urge you to contest it and go to court. Most people just pay it and that is what this third-party company is counting on. They make it difficult to contest and give false information about the consequences of doing so.

How does this system work?

The cameras in the school buses will record video and images of cars and license plates. The company that installed and runs the cameras then determines if there’s a violation. If there is, it will be submitted to Richmond police electronically. Officers will then determine whether or not to issue a ticket.

Then interim superintendent told ABC 8 news:

“We’re averaging 30 violations a day,” Interim Superintendent Tommy Kranz says, “So that indicates to me that yes, it is working.” 100 school buses are equipped with a total of 13 cameras, nine on the outside and four on the inside. From the first day of Fall to October 24, 1,021 citations were issued to drivers who illegally pass a school bus when the stop-arm is out or red lights are flashing.

This doesn’t mean the system cannot be abused. This past October, the FBI raided the home of the CEO of Force Multiplier Solutions. It’s interesting to see that the company’s websites are down since January 2018. It seems the neighbor in our story may have been contacted by Alert Bus.

Despite these traffic violation woes, please be aware that it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus with its arm out and flashing lights on unless the driver and bus are separated by a physical median. The safety of our students and pedestrians is of the utmost importance after all.

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Lee 04/19/2018 at 10:12 AM

If these tickets are anything like automated red light tickets, it should be fine to completely ignore them. I used to travel to Northern Virginia, DC, and Southern Maryland on a regular basis and got two or three of those that I completely ignored without any consequence. Don’t take my word for it/research for yourself, especially since this is technically a different type of ticket. But if it’s anything like a speed or red light camera, your best bet is probably to not even acknowledge it.

crd 04/19/2018 at 4:26 PM

I got a ticket in January and contested it. I watched the video, and the stop arm did not come out until I was almost a full block past the bus. I have never passed a stopped school bus in my life. However, when I went to court, the judge would not allow me to say anything other than ‘not guilty’ and she found me guilty and fined me $100. I appealed it, but have subsequently decided to pay it because I had a lawyer friend look at the videos and he said it could go either way on the appeal and i could end up owing more. Frankly I think the system sucks, and I”m so paranoid now that I stop when I see a school bus, whether it’s got the stop arm out or not.

TBoyd 04/19/2018 at 6:10 PM

I got hit by this. It looked like I was guilty from the videos. I couldn’t even remember the incident nor tell where it happened. From the videos it looked like the bus was parked on the street – there were no kids around. But like a dummy, I paid the $250 fine to avoid the threats that were given like cited above. Thanks for bringing this up. Just shaking my head about how things have changed. I’m too old for this (77) LOL!! 🙂

jean Mcdaniel 04/19/2018 at 6:41 PM

You have not committed a violation unless there are children loading or unloading according to the Judge.

SA Chaplin 04/19/2018 at 7:57 PM

To CRD: I would sue Force Montpelier for fraud. Ask for $10,000 in damages — that should get their attention. If you bring your lawsuit in small claims court the costs should be minimal. In the alternative, there are lots of young attorneys (with no clients) looking for business. Offer one of them a 50/50 split.

If nothing else, suing that company will make you feel better.

L 04/20/2018 at 7:11 AM

@ SA Chaplin – pretty sure the small claims limit is $5000.


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