Volusia County Schools in DeLand, Fla., recently conducted a pilot program to get a better understanding of how many motorists pass their stopped school buses while children are boarding and disembarking.
The results, which were recently released, reveal that during the 29-day pilot period, cameras on just one of the county's 229 buses captured a total of 71 violations.
The results also showed that eight out of every 10 violations occurred between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., with 67% of the violations occurring on either Tuesday or Wednesday of each week. Under the pilot agreement, events were captured but the motorists were not issued a citation.
"Our goal was to measure how many drivers disregard stopped school buses with the stop arm extended and illegally pass them," said Greg Akin, director of transportation for Volusia County Schools. "Keeping our children safe is our No. 1 priority, and we want to change driver behavior in a positive way to protect the lives of the children who ride a school bus to and from school every day."
American Traffic Solutions (ATS) provided the school district with its CrossingGuard technology to help monitor the extent of the problem.
CrossingGuard is powered by AngelTrax's IntelliGuard cameras mounted on the driver's side of the school bus. When the bus extends its stop arm, the system automatically detects if a vehicle passes the stopped school bus within the enforced zone. High-quality violation images of a vehicle's license plate and a video that captures the entire violation event provide law enforcement with evidence to prosecute these violations.
In related news, Carrollton (Ga.) City Schools will partner with ATS to deploy CrossingGuard to help address illegal bus passing in the state.
Before deciding to add the technology to its school bus fleet, the district conducted an informal study to determine the number of stop-arm violations in its area. In one afternoon, a total of 23 violations occurred.
“Student safety is at the forefront of every discussion we have in the school system,” said Michael Sanders, assistant superintendent of Carrollton City Schools. “Through the program, we hope to significantly reduce the number of these types of violations, which will increase the overall safety of our students.”
Carrollton City Schools expects to have the cameras installed at the start of the 2012-13 school year.
Newton County Schools and Carroll County Schools, both in Georgia, also plan to install CrossingGuard on their buses, as SBF previously reported.