Wednesday was the last day of school for , and the number of school buses on the road will be dramatically decreased during the summer months.
But that doesn't mean motorists should ease up on following the law if they do see a stopped school bus.
, along with four other police departments in the area, have been involved in a trial of "SmartBus" technology – a video camera placed in a school bus which collects live feed. Personnel at SmartBus Live watch the feed, and send local police departments notifications, via the internet, of violators passing a stopped school bus.
According to police, once the violation has been verified by the traffic division, a $460 ticket for the infraction is sent to the violator via certified mail, along with a photo of the violator who committed the offense and a web link to view the video of their vehicle passing the stopped school bus. The ticket arrives within 10 days of the offense, police said.
West Hartford has recently equipped one school bus with this technology, and plans to have at least four more in use by the time school resumes in the fall. The recent passage of Public Act 11-255 has allowed Connecticut towns to use this technology.
It has already been implemented in Hamden, New Britain, and Stratford, and Providence, RI, has it installed on 30 buses. Providence has reportedly issued 7,000 tickets in the three years it has employed SmartBus technology.
There is no cost to West Hartford for this technology, and the town gets a percentage of fine paid by the violator.
West Hartford Police say SmartBus will be used on at least one bus involved in summer school transportation.
West Hartford Police Captain David Dubiel stated in a memo sent to town officials that officers will "continue to enforce on-site violations. Procedures are in place so that a motorist is not ticketed by an officer on-site AND the SmartBus Live program." Dubiel also advised that recorded images from the monitoring system may not "be introduced as evidence in any other civil or criminal proceedings."
Captain Dubiel provided video of two violations in West Hartford captured on the trial runs of the SmartBus technology. The first occurred on March 14, at 3:13 p.m. on Newington Rd. The second occurred on May 31, at 7:30 a.m., at 1078 New Britain Ave.
Dubiel said that since the initiative began, two to three violations per day have been recorded wtih just one bus using the technology. He said many tickets have already been issued.