The message from parents, superintendents, and school bus drivers on stop-arm violations is clear: when a school bus has the stop-arm out, it means STOP. Communities across the world are addressing the crisis of distracted or apathetic drivers who illegally pass school buses, putting students in danger.
In Maine, one mom says the lives of her children are in danger when crossing the street.
“Cars know they’re not going to get pulled over, they can speed, and chances of seeing a cop just waiting to pull people over is slim,” Danica Gagne said. There is video evidence showing Gagne’s 12-year-old daughter jumping out of the path of a car that didn’t stop for a school bus. Incidents like this [stop-arm violations] have happened to her children three times in the last month.
In Hardin County, Kentucky, the community is reeling from an accident as the result of a stop-arm violation. On January 25, a middle school student was struck by a car as she crossed a street to board the school bus.
Similarly, a stop-arm violation tragedy occurred in Austin, Texas, which saw a 33% increase compared to 2016. In conjunction with that startling increase, two Austin students were hit when distracted drivers illegally passed school buses.
The Solution to Stop-Arm Violations
The turnkey solution, then, is a combination of technology with tougher legislation that allows communities to hold stop-arm violators accountable. A Clark County school district installed cameras on the outside of school buses (instead of the usual inside of school buses to monitor the students) to catch stop-arm violations. Curtis Mack, a bus driver for the school district, said he has seen 23 violations this year alone—most of them on highways when cars are rolling at increased speeds.
Other Jurisdictions Respond and Act
New York hopes to follow suit. Last year, the State ticketed over 1,000 violators on a single day. Legislation allowing for the installation of cameras on the stop-arms of school buses and the use of these cameras for fining illegal passers was included in the Governor of New York’s executive budget. The current law states that a law enforcement officer must bear witness to the violation in order to issue a stop-arm violation ticket.