CARROLLTON, Ga. -- Drivers who don't stop for school buses in some parts of the metro area are about to get hit with stiff fines.
Carroll and Newton Counties and the city of Carrollton have become the first systems to actually go after the drivers where it hurts: in the wallet.
Last year, the Cobb County school district became one of the first to install cameras on buses to catch motorists who don't stop when a school bus is loading and unloading; the school system could only send warning letters to violators.
Now, Cobb will join the two Carroll County school districts and Newton County in contracting with American Traffic Solutions (ATS), an Arizona-based company.
ATS installed cameras free of charge on school buses for Carroll County Schools, and in the first 11 days of school recorded 170 possible violations. Moreover, after looking at video from just the first week, authorities will now go after drivers involved in 28 violations and have 142 still pending.
The video doesn't lie.
In the recordings, it's obvious the school buses are stopped and the stop sign is out clearly displayed, yet drivers pass the bus, breaking the law.
"It's astounding. It's an epidemic and it's all over the state and we knew it was a bad problem, but we had no idea how bad it is," said Carroll County Sheriff Terry E. Langley.
"I was shocked. I didn't realize. We had one driver on the first day that had four violations at one stop," said Carroll County Schools Superintendent Scott Cowart.
That bus driver had proof - now that Carroll County Schools has cameras on the side of its buses to catch those who drive by stopped school buses as children get on and off.
"They're so busy and they're trying to get to work, but we don't need to put anybody's life in jeopardy," said Sheriff Langley.
ATS will recoup its money from the fines levied on drivers which can range from $300 for a first violation to a $1,000 fine for the third one.
"It's close to a win-win as we get," said Superintendent Cowart.