American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and AngelTrax recently partnered to create an external school bus camera system, CrossingGuard, which can both capture illegal school bus passing events and process citations automatically.
ATS is a provider of road safety camera solutions and traffic violation management services, while AngelTrax offers mobile surveillance technology for school buses and other industries.
“Since ATS is in the automatic ticketing business, they looked to us for a partner that could offer a system innovative enough to automatically detect violations,” says Richie Howard, president and CEO of AngelTrax.
CrossingGuard is powered by AngelTrax’s IntelliGuard Stop Arm Violation system. The enabling hardware features patent-pending technology that automatically detects stop arm violators that enter the enforced zone from either the rear or oncoming direction while the stop arm is extended.
If a vehicle illegally breaches the enforced zone, CrossingGuard’s camera captures a view of each vehicle and its license plate. This segment of the recording is automatically marked, along with a couple seconds’ window before and after. The footage is then wirelessly transferred via ATS’ private connection directly to Phoenix, where the camera-captured stop-arm violations are processed.
With CrossingGuard’s technology, uploading can occur anywhere — on the road or in the docking station — as long as there is a 3G or 4G wireless network available.
“For most stop-arm cameras on the market, a staff must manually sift through the footage to search for violations, but CrossingGuard does that automatically; every video that comes into Arizona is a violation,” Howard says.
Issuing authorities in Phoenix then review the footage, and a decision is made on whether to send out a citation.
Company officials say that once the device is installed, there is no work involved for the driver or the school district. When a vehicle equipped with CrossingGuard is in use, the camera turns on and off independently and can automatically record over insignificant footage.
“The camera does all the work,” says Charles Territo, vice president of communications at ATS. “The bus driver is just responsible for his or her regular duties; if a bus is stopped and the stop arm is out, the camera will know when a violation is occurring.”
According to Howard, AngelTrax and/or ATS can tell you the number of violations that occurred on a given route as soon as the bus stops. “We know faster than the bus driver. It’s very quick.”
Territo points to the high number of violations that occur daily. In 2011, a nationwide survey conducted by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services found that more than 76,000 vehicles illegally passed school buses in a one-day snapshot.
“Currently, we issue nearly 4 million red light-running and speed-related violations per year across the country,” Territo says. “We are very experienced in the process and the challenges that need to be met in order to implement a successful program. School bus stop-arm running is a serious problem nationwide, and we have the ability to create a product that can help reduce this type of activity. With this product, automatic detection is key.”
Many states are beginning to adopt legislation allowing for the use of this type of technology. IntelliGuard was in the works for a year before the partnership to create CrossingGuard took place. The new system is currently being installed in vehicles; pilot programs were first available in April 2012.
CrossingGuard is free of cost to customers and 100% violator funded, according to Territo. The incentive for installation is simply to reduce the number of annual school bus stop-arm violations.
“No one wants to live through the tragedy of a child being injured or killed while boarding or disembarking from a bus,” Territo says. “Any driver will tell you that school bus stop-arm running happens all too often.”
AngelTrax and ATS officials say that the partnership will allow both companies to combine their strengths in order to deliver unparalleled stop-arm violation detection that will not only raise awareness of the issue of stop-arm running, but will also increase enforcement and hopefully save lives.