Austin Independent School District (AISD) is partnering with American Traffic Solutions to install stop-arm cameras on its school buses to address illegal passing by motorists.

Beginning on Jan. 7, cameras mounted on the side of AISD’s buses will help authorities enforce traffic laws that prohibit drivers from passing school buses stopped to allow children on or off the bus. For the first 30 days, the district’s police department will issue warnings to motorists who illegally pass a school bus with its stop arm extended.

“Nearly 22,000 Austin students ride one of the district’s school buses each day. We want each and every one of them to arrive at their destinations safely,” said Kris Hafezizadeh, the AISD’s director of transportation. “Safety is our number-one goal when transporting students. Too many drivers choose to ignore the school bus stop arm and think it is acceptable to pass when children are unloading and loading. With this program, we hope to significantly reduce the number of these types of violations, which will increase the overall safety of our students.”

When a stop arm is deployed, the camera automatically detects a vehicle passing the bus in both directions, and captures video of the violation and still images of a vehicle’s license plate. The video and license plate images are then reviewed by AISD law enforcement officials for approval before a citation is issued.

The cameras will initially be installed on 30 buses and will continue to be installed until all AISD regular route buses have them.

In Texas, the penalty for a first stop-arm violation will result in a $300 fine for the vehicle’s owner. Violation notices will begin on Feb. 8.

A recent study completed by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) found that in a single day in Texas, more than 7,600 cars illegally passed stopped school buses.

The district conducted a pilot program in spring 2014, with cameras mounted on the buses, and recorded an average of 60 violations per day.

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