INDIANA, Pa. — Zen-tinel, a manufacturer and distributor of mobile surveillance systems, has developed a new stop-arm camera to identify drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses.
The cameras installed on the outside of buses automatically record any vehicle passing the bus while the stop arm is extended, without having to rely on driver activation.
Up to three cameras capture images of the vehicle’s front and back license plates, as well as the face of the driver. Officials said these images can be turned over to law enforcement and used to prosecute motorists who have illegally passed the bus.
Officials also said that the Zen-tinel stop-arm camera caught three drivers who violated Pennsylvania school bus stop sign laws in the first week of implementation for the Altoona Area School District.
Dana Vinglish, operations manager of Altoona Student Transportation Inc., which handles transportation for the school district, said that mounting the plate that holds the camera is “quick and allows the camera to be moved from bus to bus easily."
“The entire system and mounting plates are school bus yellow so they blend perfectly,” Vinglish added.
Officials also noted that these cameras can save school districts money, as only about 20% of a fleet needs to be outfitted. Problem routes can be targeted by transferring cameras between buses. GPS tracking also is available to map the location of a violation, helping to identify specific areas of need.
“Safety should be the top concern of bus operators,” said Larry Vaughn, Zen-tinel’s president. “Catching motorists who pass stopped school buses is the best way to ensure that level of safety. Our hope is that it will act as a deterrent for other drivers. Awareness of the law is key to stopping violations. Once a driver gets a ticket for passing a school bus, he won’t do it again.”