Four Tips for Stop Arm Camera Success

school bus safety, illegal passing, stop-arm camera technology

school bus stop armSchool districts around the nation are exploring use of stop arm cameras as a way to deter unsafe driving near their buses. However, a stop arm camera by itself won't stop bad drivers. BusBoss has some tips to help ensure the success of your camera initiative.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest threats to student bus riders are motorists who disregard the bus's stop arm sign. Many solutions to this problem have been tried, and currently one of the most popular (if somewhat controversial) is placing cameras on bus stop arms. These stop arm cameras work like other traffic light cameras, taking pictures of violators' license plates and causing a ticket to be mailed to them.

If your district is considering the implementation of a stop arm camera system, there are other policy-related things you can do to help make them a success. Here are a few tips.

Four Ways to Improve the Success Rate of Your Stop Arm Camera Initiative

1. Be Very Public

Stop arm cameras can only work as a deterrent if motorists at large know that they're there. Your decision to introduce stop arm cameras onto your buses should be announced loudly, well ahead of time, and publicized as widely as possible. Give the public weeks, even months, to learn about the coming cameras and about the laws governing driving near school buses.

If this causes some controversy or arguments at public school board meetings, good! The more people hear about the cameras, the more effective they're likely to be.

2. Put Together Informational Packages or Videos

Your district should do what it can to help inform the public about proper driving near buses. Hold open houses where you discuss the relevant driving laws, or put together a video demonstrating right vs wrong behaviors. Beyond publicizing the laws, also help people understand their responsibilities.

(If you have a media-creation class for upperclassmen, this would be an excellent project to hand off to them.)

3. Add More Lights

There's a growing body of evidence that many stop arm violations come as a result of drivers not paying enough attention and not seeing the stop arm. That doesn't excuse their behavior, of course, but it does offer a course to corrective action: add more lights to your bus and stop arm, making it brighter and flashier to help attract the attention of nearby motorists.

4. Work With Law Enforcement to Add License-Related Penalties

There's some reason to think that financial penalties by themselves are of limited use in deterring poor driving behavior. Ideally, your stop arm camera initiative should be backed up by the threat of license restrictions or revocations. Of course, that requires cooperation from law enforcement and potentially new laws being passed. Still, this is an option to pursue if it seems doable.

Stop arm cameras have been shown to work, under the right circumstances.

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