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Press Release

Salem Public Schools to Conduct School Bus Safety Study With BusPatrol

May 20, 2024

Salem, MA

The pilot program will reveal just how often cars fail to stop for school buses.

To assess pupil transportation safety and tackle the problem of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses, Salem Public Schools and the City of Salem have partnered with BusPatrol to conduct a school bus stop-arm camera pilot program. Through the program, the district’s entire school bus fleet will be equipped with AI-powered cameras to capture video and data showing just how often cars illegally pass stopped school buses.

“Earlier this year we started discussions with our bus drivers and BusPatrol, to explore how Salem could conduct a study like this,” said Mayor Dominick Pangallo, who chairs the Salem School Committee and is a member of the Mayors Institute on Pedestrian Safety. “Not only will this provide a window into the scope of this problem in Salem, the data will also help shape enforcement strategies by our police department. We’re committed to advancing the Vision Zero goals for safe roadways for all, and especially for students and children. Ultimately, our hope is the Commonwealth will give communities more flexibility in using these tools for enforcement, and not just studies.”

“We’re very excited to partner with BusPatrol to advance the safety of our students as they travel to and from our schools,” said SPS Superintendent Dr. Stephen Zrike. “We feel each member of our staff is an educator, which includes our drivers. Salem Public Schools supports the use of school bus stop-arm cameras and House Bill 4450. This legislation would empower our drivers to keep our students even safer as they commute between home and school.”

The pilot program is expected to highlight the need for enhanced legislation supporting the use of school bus stop-arm cameras in Massachusetts. The results will be used to campaign for a fix to legislation and greater awareness around school bus safety. The school district will be able to access valuable data, including where and when violations are most likely to occur.

Salem Public Schools is the second district in Massachusetts to participate in a school bus illegal passing survey. At the start of the school year, Peabody Public Schools equipped ten school buses with the cameras. From September to May, the cameras recorded almost 3,500 dangerous stop-arm violations.

Steve Randazzo, Chief Growth Officer at BusPatrol, said: “We’re proud to partner with Salem Public Schools to help move the needle on this common-sense public safety legislation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Nationwide, we are seeing a disturbing rise in reckless and distracted driving, and it’s critical that we come together to ensure our students are safe on the ride to and from school.”

A bill (H.4450) in the Massachusetts legislature that would allow school districts, in partnership with law enforcement, to operate stop-arm-enforced camera systems to address illegal school bus passings has been reported favorably by the Joint Committee on Transportation and referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. This legislation comes after years of advocacy from Massachusetts communities and supporters who have raised concerns about an alarming surge in reckless motorist behavior around school buses.

At least 27 states, including Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and Maine, have legalized school bus stop-arm enforcement programs.

Without a fix to Massachusetts state law, local police departments and sheriff’s offices are unable to leverage photo enforcement technology to ticket motorists who break the law and fail to stop. The district hopes the findings from this stop-arm survey will serve as a compelling case for passing laws that allow for more effective enforcement measures in Massachusetts.

Each year, thousands of children are needlessly put at risk due to reckless and illegal driver behavior around school buses, which can have fatal and tragic consequences. According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, school buses are passed over 43 million times per year in the United States.

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