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Shelby County school bus camera system to soon get an upgrade

Photo by: Wendell Edwards

Sherry Seals just stood there.

Frozen.

The afternoon school bus stopped in front of her and her children were getting off — just as a car sped by without stopping.

"I couldn't really speak because I was speechless," Seals said. "I couldn't move."

The whole encounter, that happened in March in Columbiana, was caught on video from the school bus windshield camera. The bus driver honked the horn, but the driver never stopped. The school bus driver reviewed the footage and got the license tag. The case was turned over to authorities.

Safety at school bus stops has gained national attention after 5 children were killed last week while waiting for the bus.

In Shelby County, the district says safety is a priority. The district has windshield cameras and stop arm cameras on 90-percent of its fleet.

The state requires school districts, on one specific day each year, to keep a record of the number of illegal passes.

Shelby County had 61 violations on that single day last year.

"18 in that one morning and 43 in that one evening,' said Brent Copes, transportation supervisor for Shelby County Schools. "That's way too many. I'd love to see zero. That's our target. Our goal is to get kids to school and safe every day."

The district is also going to pilot a new camera system in the spring. Video of violators goes straight to the district attorney's office.

The goal is to have drivers obey the law.

Sherry Seals doesn't want another close call either.

"When they crossed the street, I hugged them," she said about her kids at the time. "I was glad they didn't take a step."

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