Starting April 11, all 40 buses in the Somerset County Public Schools district fleet will be outfitted with automated enforcement technology, including BusPatrol stop-arm cameras.
The technology captures the license plates of vehicles whose drivers pass school buses while children are loading or unloading. If a violation occurs, footage will be forwarded to the Somerset County Sheriff's Office as part of an evidence package to be reviewed for a possible civil penalty.
Michael Bartemy, transportation supervisor for Somerset County Public Schools, said: "With student safety as our number one priority, we are confident that our new BusPatrol systems will be another safeguard to minimize student transportation hazards. It's our hope that our community takes notice of this new safety enhancement and that it provides support to local law enforcement in reducing school bus traffic violations."
Sheriff Ronald Howard said: “The BusPatrol school bus safety program is an ongoing partnership between the Somerset County Board of Education and the Sheriff’s Office to make roads safer for children. Our number one priority is the safety of children.”
In addition to stop-arm technology, Somerset County school buses also will be outfitted with 360-degree safety cameras (interior, windshield, rear-view, and sideload), GPS tracking, 4G LTE connectivity, and routing solutions. The technology, installation, and maintenance are provided free through the violator-funded program.
Jean Souliere, CEO and Founder at BusPatrol, explained: "The only way to drive meaningful change is through education. Our entire program is focused on educating drivers so they make safer decisions. Once you understand the potential consequences of ignoring a school bus stop-arm, you never do it again. BusPatrol’s low recidivism rates highlight the effectiveness of our programs. In some communities, 98% of first-time violators never receive a second ticket, and violation rates drop by 30% year over year. We look forward to inspiring similar change here in Somerset County and making roads safer for local kids."
Motorists are advised to slow down and prepare to stop when a school bus flashes its yellow warning lights before coming to a complete stop when the red lights and stop-arm are deployed. According to Maryland law, drivers approaching the bus from both directions must stop, except on divided highways with a median separation. Drivers must not proceed again until the school bus turns off its flashing red lights or begins moving. A first-time violation issued through an automated enforcement system is $250, or $570, and three points against a license if witnessed by an officer.