There were 15 crashes last year that directly resulted from illegal school bus passing, with a toll of 18 injuries and deaths, according to stop-arm enforcement technology provider Redflex Student Guardian.
Among the incidents in 2013 were:
• A 5-year-old died after stepping off a school bus and being hit by a truck near Pembroke, Ga., Savannah Morning News reported.
• News 12 Connecticut reported that a 17-year-old suffered a broken leg after being hit by a car that apparently passed a school bus illegally.
• Three children were hit by a car as they tried to board a bus in Kelso, Wash.
• A teen was hit and killed by a vehicle in Salisbury, N.C., while crossing the street at a school bus stop.
To combat illegal school bus passing, many operations are testing and implementing automated stop-arm enforcement programs.
School buses are outfitted with a camera system that is triggered to capture data as a vehicle passes the bus while the stop arm is extended and lights are flashing. The data, including photos and video of the incident, are reviewed and placed into an evidence file. Local law enforcement officers review the evidence to determine whether a citation is warranted.
“Far too many drivers underestimate the consequences of illegally passing a school bus," said Thomas O’Connor, president of Redflex Student Guardian. "Photo enforcement is one of the most effective ways to curb this dangerous behavior, while also holding violators accountable.”
The company reports that automated stop-arm enforcement is currently enabled in Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Legislators in some other states are considering enablement.