Just like the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, sometimes a photograph can give a shot in the arm to a safety initiative that a lot of talking can’t quite muster.

As we previously reported, South Carolina passed legislation that authorizes the use of stop-arm cameras on school buses to capture footage of vehicles passing illegally.

One interesting detail in the journey of the stop-arm camera measure through the legislative process is the role that a photo played. Bill sponsor Sen. Thomas Alexander showed the shocking picture to other legislators to help galvanize support for the bill.

The photo, provided to SBF by a spokesperson for Alexander and included here, shows the aftermath of a stop-arm running incident in Cherokee County, South Carolina, in May. A motorist passing a stopped school bus struck and seriously injured a teenage student.

In the photo, the force of the vehicle that struck the teenage girl is powerfully depicted by the position of two items: the girl’s shoes and backpack.

Her shoes, which she was apparently knocked out of, were left lying in the road. Her backpack, incredibly, was thrown all the way onto the roof of the bus.

For those who aren’t already convinced that stop-arm running is a dangerous problem, this photo should change their minds.

Numerous efforts needed
South Carolina is just the latest state to allow stop-arm cameras. As we report in our feature article, many school bus operations in other states have found the cameras to be effective in citing illegal passers and in deterring further violations.

Stop-arm cameras are a great tool in the effort to reduce illegal passing of school buses, and they should continue to be authorized by states and implemented by school bus operations.

However, it should also be noted that along with the implementation of cameras, there are other essential elements in the fight to protect students from stop-arm runners.

Ned Einstein, a veteran transportation consultant and expert in crossing incidents, stresses that school bus drivers must continue to focus on directing students across the street properly and not assume that cars will stop because there is a camera on the side of the bus.

Einstein also notes that legislators must set steep penalties for stop-arm violations, and the law enforcement and judicial systems have to follow through on enforcing those penalties.

School transportation directors should work with the media to alert the public about the presence of cameras when they’ve been installed, and about the dangerous consequences of stop-arm running.

Even with the addition of new technologies on the bus, safety still comes down to people doing the right thing.