Indiana Gets a Grant for Stop-Arm Cameras
published on October 25, 2016 by Sonia Mastros
school bus safety, illegal passing, stop-arm camera technology
Indiana is now leading the way in the push to increase school bus safety with stop-arm cameras.
The East Noble School Corporation (ENSC) in Indiana has been awarded a $50,000 grant by the state's Department of Homeland Security specifically for the purpose of adding both back and forward facing stop-arm cameras to their entire school bus fleet. This follows a successful pilot program introduced this past spring, testing the use of such a camera on one bus.
Even better, ENSC is doing this with the full cooperation of local police authorities, who will treat the footage produced as actionable evidence in the same way they currently do traffic light cameras.
Does this mean a change in stop-arm enforcement overall? We certainly hope so.
The Threat of Unsafe Drivers to School Bus Safety
The problem of drivers ignoring the stop sign a bus shows whenever students are loading or unloading is well-known, but until recently, relatively few areas took the problem seriously despite the obvious threats to school bus safety. Bus drivers had few ways to report drivers who ignored the stop signs, and enforcement is often considered a low priority by local police forces.
It's only in the last few years that serious studies have begun looking into the problem. In 2013, North Carolina discovered more than 3,000 cases of school bus drivers ignoring stop-arm signs across the state in just a single day. In Austin, Texas, more than 1,000 drivers were spotted passing buses illegally in a month-long study.
These studies have also demonstrated that increased enforcement is effective in greatly reducing illegal passing behavior. When Providence, Rhode Island, began sending warning letters and citations to those caught ignoring stop-arm signs, violations dropped by 90 percent.
This recent move by Indiana to directly promote and sponsor stop-arm cameras is a highly positive step forward. There's rarely -if ever- a good reason for motorists to endanger bus passengers by passing illegally, and stop-arm cameras are one of the best tools currently known for stopping them. If the footage is treated as admissible by law enforcement, warnings or even actual citations can be mailed out based on the camera data, providing a quick and easy fix for this threat to school bus safety.
School Buses Keep Getting Safer
Public school buses are already considered one of the safest forms of transportation on the road, but they can still be made safer. Reducing or eliminating the problem of illegal passing would stop one of the biggest remaining threats to the precious cargo every school bus carries, every day. Hopefully, other states will follow Indiana's lead and make enforcement a high priority.
Has your district been looking into ways to reduce the number of motorists passing buses illegally? Let us know about it below!