Two school districts on opposite sides of the country have turned to a high-tech solution to enhance student safety by deterring drivers from illegally passing stopped school buses, a hazard occurring some 17 million times a year, according to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS).
Methacton School District in Pennsylvania and Sacramento Unified School District in California have partnered with safety technology company BusPatrol to modernize their school buses with a stop-arm camera system. While the bus stop arm is extended and flashing red lights are activated, the camera system is positioned to capture vehicles that pass the bus.
The technology, installation, and maintenance are all provided at zero cost to the school districts. BusPatrol’s platform is entirely violator-funded.
Methacton Outfits Entire Fleet
Methacton's 100-school bus fleet, transporting 5,000 each day, will be equipped with the new system in Lower Providence Township and Worcester Township. Law enforcement will review and confirm the violation occurred before a civil violation notice is generated by Bus Patrol and sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. Lower Providence Township Police serves Lower Providence Township. The Pennsylvania State Police serves Worcester Township.
“Deploying this new technology to increase driver awareness and deter reckless driving is, in my opinion, the most logical way to continue providing that safety to our children and community as a whole,” said Chief Michael Jackson, Lower Providence Township Police Department.
The program will roll out in the coming weeks and will include a warning period, according to Timothy Bricker, business director, Methacton School District.
Sacramento Pilots with Five Buses
Sacramento has launched a pilot program with BusPatrol, equipping five of its buses with AI-powered stop-arm cameras. District officials believe the pilot program will highlight the need for better enforcement of the state’s school bus safety laws. Results from the trial program will be used to campaign for legislation authorizing the use of automated stop-arm cameras throughout California
The school district also will be able to access data through the BusPatrol Student Safety Platform, including where and when violations are most likely to occur, information that can be shared with police to improve enforcement at violation hotspots.
BusPatrol CEO Jean Souliere said: “Every time a driver blows past a stopped school bus, a child’s life is put at risk. Our platform uses AI and IoT technology to change driver behavior. In fact, our programs are proven to reduce the number of times drivers illegally pass school buses by as much as 30% year over year.” The company provides accessibility for school districts and municipalities to modernize their entire school bus fleets by outfitting them with the latest stop-arm, route planning, and route execution technology.
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