Children who ride to school on the yellow school bus can expect a safer, smarter commute this winter, thanks to a new safety initiative in Harrisburg. Central Dauphin School District has partnered with local law enforcement and BusPatrol to launch a new School Bus Safety Program to prevent motorists from illegally passing stopped school buses.
As part of the safety initiative, the entire fleet of 122 Central Dauphin school buses will be outfitted with automated enforcement technology to detect the license plates of vehicles that fail to stop for school buses, putting children at risk. The video evidence is shared with local law enforcement for review before a citation is issued.
The programs will go live in December, following an education and public awareness campaign. The campaign seeks to educate motorists and learner drivers about school bus safety laws and teach school children how to get on and off the bus as safely as possible. This education will be ongoing once the program is live.
“The District is pleased to partner with Bus Patrol to incorporate this safety initiative into our transportation system. The safety of our students and bus drivers is our number one priority and this partnership is an added measure to achieving that goal.”
Last October, Pennsylvania authorities reported more than 250 stop-arm violations in one day during Operation Safe Stop. In 2020, Allentown School District captured more than 200 illegal passings on just two school buses over a 47-day stop-arm study. This is equal to 2.18 violations per bus per day. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommends the use of school bus photo enforcement to reduce the rate of illegal passings.
Jean Souliere, CEO and Founder of BusPatrol, said that the safety initiative is proven to make roads safer: “Every day, thousands of cars ignore school bus stop-arms and speed past school buses as children are stepping on and off. Sadly, this dangerous motorist behavior is only getting worse. Our safety programs combine education and enforcement to change driver behavior and ensure that all motorists know when to stop for the big yellow bus. In some communities, our programs have reduced the rate of illegal passing by up to 30% YoY.”
In addition to stop-arm cameras, Central Dauphin School District will also equip its buses with safety features at no cost to the district or taxpayers. The technology, installation, and maintenance are funded by violation revenue over a 5-year term.
As stated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, motorists must stop at least 10 feet away from school buses with red lights flashing and stop-arm extended. The penalty for a first-time violation is $300.
To learn more about the School Bus Safety Program, go to: www.cdschools.org under News and Events.