Studies in two California school districts revealed thousands of cars passed stopped school buses while the stop-arms were out. The Visalia and Sacramento City Unified School Districts partnered with BusPatrol to test stop-arm safety technology to see how often cars illegally pass stopped school buses that were loading or unloading children.
In Visalia, from November to February, nine school buses recorded more than 1,000 stop-arm violation incidents, according to a press release. That's about three times per day. During the same time period in Sacramento, five school buses recorded more than 387 stop-arm violation incidents. That amounts to about 1.3 times per day.
"This pilot program only captured a fraction of the problem and shows that more needs to be done. People need to learn that stop means stop," said Christina Pritchett, president of the Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Education.
California state law requires vehicles to stop for a stopped school bus with its stop-arm extended and red lights flashing. Under current legislation, school districts and law enforcement agencies are not permitted to use automated stop-arm cameras to cite violators.
Jean Souliere, CEO and founder of BusPatrol said the company is conducting pilots like this across the country. BusPatrol advocates for automated technology like stop-arm cameras to help change driver behavior. A bill in the California state legislature would allow for the use of the technology. It would also require drivers to stop for stopped school buses on a divided highway, unless there is an elevated barrier, or the median is unpaved. Under existing law, that is not required.