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In 2017, BusPatrol conducted a stop-arm camera pilot program in Manassas. This revealed that there is an average of 11 stop-arm violations every single day in the school district. The pilot also showed that each school bus is passed an average of 35 times per year, equating to more than 2,450 illegal passes in a 180-day school year across the district.
In response to the frightening number of stop-arm violations, the school district decided to partner with BusPatrol to tackle the issue. This data was shared with the community, city council, and police department to raise awareness and highlight the need for a school bus stop-arm safety program in Manassas.
The school district also opted for an emergency panic button so that student transportation professionals could communicate in real-time with children or an intruder on the bus in case of an emergency.
Speaking about the technology, Hawkins explained: “BusPatrol offered everything. They offered cameras on all of our buses, not just selected school buses, and not only for writing citations. They installed cameras on the inside of the bus, on the back of the bus, on the right-hand side of the bus.
“They gave us the option to have a panic button so that we would be able to talk to the children or an intruder on the school bus in real-time as an incident was happening.
“For example, if a bus driver were to get sick or have a heart attack, we can talk to the children on the school bus until someone can get there. Conversely, if an intruder were to board the school bus, we would be able to see what is happening on the bus and try to talk that person down until the police can get there.
“It also gives us GPS capability so that we can know where those buses are at all times.”
Manassas City Police Department is also thankful for the technology. Traffic Services Officer MPO. B. Mangione explained: “The main challenge for law enforcement is manpower. You have so many school buses out at any one given time that you can’t have somebody watching each bus. Whereas when every bus has a camera on it, it’s much easier to identify the violators.”
The local police department echoed these sentiments, saying: “BusPatrol is very supportive, and they make it very smooth and seamless for us to do our portion of the program. Even from the court follow up, they provide us with all the documentation, videos, and everything that we need to present evidence in the court.”
In response to BusPatrol data, the police department added educational signage in high violation areas to change behavior and improve student safety. Traffic Services Officer MPO. B. Mangione explained: “The BusPatrol program helped us to identify two main violations areas. We created large signs for these danger zones, to remind drivers that they need to stop for school buses that are stopped in either direction.
“It’s about continually educating the public so that they’re aware that you need to stop for the bus on the other side of the street. We believe this has been effective in reducing the number of stop-arm violations.”
As Public Information Officer Sergeant A.G. (Gio) Barahona mentions: “When it comes to safety, the safety of our children and the safety of our communities, that is all of our responsibility.”
Andy Hawkins, Executive Director of Finance and Operations at Manassas City Public Schools