Last August, with the blessing of Avon Lake City Schools officials, Avon Lake City Council increased the fine for passing a stopped school bus from $500 to $750, also adding the possibility of up to a 30-day jail sentence for offenders. We applauded that action then and we applaud Avon Lake’s continued diligence. Now, the city is taking its quest to another level: It is working with the school district to install six cameras on each of the district’s 33 buses by spring. Four will be inside the buses and the other two will be on the buses’ exterior and have infrared capabilities to read license plate numbers in the dark.
The $140,000 expenditure will enable the buses to efficiently and accurately record scofflaws, say supporters. The infrared cameras will aid bus drivers trying to simultaneously watch students and get license plate numbers of passing vehicles.
We have zero sympathy for selfish drivers more concerned about getting where they are going than the safety of children getting on or off a bus. Speeding past the extended STOP signs on buses is a problem in many of our communities, especially North Ridgeville. So-called adults should be ashamed.
From 2006 to xxx, 301 school-age children died in school-transportation-related crashes, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Of those 301 fatalities, 102 children – almost one-third – were killed while they were approaching or leaving a school bus, 54 were killed while they were on a bus, 137 were in other vehicles and eight were on bicycles.
Noble intentions aside, we can’t help being concerned concerned about our every move being tracked by the government, ad agencies and probably Mark Zuckerberg (think ads appearing on your Facebook feed two minutes after you Google something). The growing popularity of Ring cameras on doorbells nationwide means you are being recorded as you walk your dog. And where exactly is all the DNA information from those popular ancestry tests being stored?
Now, school buses have the potential of gathering information on us while we drive. We understand the need to protect our children and punish those who put them in danger. But we are getting nervous.
“In No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State” (2014), journalist Glenn Greenwald compares present day to “1984” by George Orwell. The fictional society and today “rely on the existence of a technological system with the capacity to monitor every citizen’s actions and words.” He added, “the state had the capability to watch them at any time.” It was “the uncertainty and possibility of ubiquitous surveillance that served to keep everyone in line.”
We aren’t saying stop protecting children. We are saying, let’s be mindful of who is watching us. We could very well be opening a Pandora's Box.