Safety

Pennsylvania District Pilots School Bus Stop-Arm Cameras

Sadiah Thompson
Posted on February 3, 2020

Allentown (Pa.) School District identified a total of 205 illegal passing incidents over 47 days after installing stop-arm cameras on two of its buses. Photo courtesy BusPatrol
Allentown (Pa.) School District identified a total of 205 illegal passing incidents over 47 days after installing stop-arm cameras on two of its buses. Photo courtesy BusPatrol
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A school district here recently added stop-arm cameras to two of its buses as part of a pilot project to collect data on the state’s illegal passing incidents.

Allentown School District conducted the 47 school-day project with BusPatrol Inc. to install the cameras on two of its buses, according to a news release from BusPatrol. The district hosted a press conference on Thursday to announce the results of the pilot, which identified a total of 205 violations in 21 locations across Allentown. The two participating buses reportedly captured an average of 2.18 violations per bus per day.

“In an urban district where many of our students walk to and from school, the stop-arm camera pilot provides an extra layer of safety for our students and families,” Thomas Parker, the superintendent for Allentown School District, said in a news release posted on the district's website. “As a parent, I am excited for how these efforts will raise community awareness, and subsequently, a shared responsibility that benefits the students and families in Allentown.”

For a total of 10 weeks, the district's buses were equipped with stop-arm cameras, GPS, and telemetry, and were connected to an encrypted LTE wireless network that sends and receives video and data, according to BusPatrol. The company processed video evidence and data on stop-arm violations while a team of processors and data scientists evaluated the problem to prepare recommendations to Allentown School District’s administrators.

Once a stop-arm camera program is implemented, ticket processing and program management will be handled by BusPatrol at no cost to Allentown, according to the company. This is reportedly made possible through BusPatrol's enforcement program, which reinvests fines paid by stop-arm violators to cover equipment and management costs. Similar programs are currently in place in school districts across Maryland, Virginia, and Georgia, while new programs are being launched in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ontario, and Quebec, according to the stop-arm camera supplier.

BusPatrol will work with officials from Allentown School District and local law enforcement to determine route planning, redistricting, fleet maintenance, real-time analysis, and financial analytics based on the pilot’s results. With a data-driven approach, the company will also team up with the Allentown community and police to offer a program that mitigates ongoing safety risks that students face on Pennsylvania’s roads.

View photos of the press conference about the pilot's results, posted on Allentown School District's Facebook page, below.

Related Topics: law enforcement, Pennsylvania, stop-arm running/illegal passing

Sadiah Thompson Assistant Editor
Comments ( 2 )
  • Tim

     | about 14 days ago

    Act 159 of 2018, allowing stop-arm cameras, may not be legal. It allows automated cameras to cite a vehicle owner with a criminal violation for illegal school bus passing. The penalty is a fine, points, and license suspension. The bill assumes the vehicle owner was driving, or requires proof that the owner was not driving. How do you prove you were not driving a few months later? It also limits allowed defenses. Under the American legal system, for a criminal moving violation, it is necessary for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt who was driving, that a violation was committed, and allow any defenses. You need not prove innocence in America, or provide any info, they must prove you guilty. This law fails that basic test. It would seem you merely need to ask the judge to throw out the ticket and he should. Say the law does not seem valid. Even if the law is allowed, the prosecution still cannot prove who was driving, most likely. The bill does not require a minimum flashing yellow duration or any form of best-practice engineering to ensure that only intentional violators are ticketed. Some roadway configurations are confusing, and Pennsylvania has some non-standard laws, such as for buses stopped on intersecting roads. Flashing lights are also not positioned sideways. Illegal passing is highly exaggerated, per NHTSA data. A school can install stop-arm extenders to block the next lane and be more visible, if any issues. Pull up the National Motorists Association.

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