Austin ISD Launches School Bus Stop Arm Safety Initiative
30-day warning period begins Jan. 7
Austin ISD is partnering with American Traffic Solutions to address motorists illegally passing school buses that are stopped and boarding or disembarking children.
On Thursday, Jan. 7, cameras mounted on the side of buses will help authorities enforce traffic laws that prohibit drivers from passing school buses stopped to allow children on or off the bus.
A recent study completed by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services found that in a single day in Texas, more than 7,600 cars illegally passed stopped school buses.
“Nearly 22,000 Austin students ride one of the district’s school buses each day. We want each and every one of them to arrive at their destinations safely. Safety is our No. 1 goal when transporting students,” said AISD Director of Transportation Kris Hafezizadeh. “Too many drivers choose to ignore the school bus stop-arm and think it is acceptable to pass when children are unloading and loading. With this program, we hope to significantly reduce the number of these types of violations, which will increase the overall safety of our students.”
In spring 2014, AISD conducted a pilot program. Cameras mounted on the buses recorded an average of 60 violations per day. For the first 30 days, the AISD Police Department will issue warnings to motorists who illegally pass a school bus with its stop-arm extended.
When a stop-arm is deployed, the camera automatically detects a vehicle passing the bus in either direction and captures video of the violation and still images of a vehicle’s license plate. When a school bus is stopped with its lights flashing, drivers in all lanes must stop unless they are on the other side of a median.
The violation video and license plate images are then reviewed by AISD law enforcement officials for approval prior to a citation being issued. In Texas, the penalty for a first stop-arm violation will result in a $300 fine for the vehicle’s owner. Violation notices will begin on Monday, Feb. 8.
The process is completely automated, allowing the school bus driver to focus on operating the bus and protecting its passengers. The cameras will initially be installed on 30 buses and will continue to be installed until all AISD regular route buses have them.
Austin ISD is the largest school district in Central Texas, serving more than 83,000 students at 130 schools. Follow AISD on Twitter at @AustinISD or on Facebook at facebook.com/austinisd.
About American Traffic Solutions
American Traffic Solutions partners with communities throughout North America to provide red-light, speed and school bus stop-arm safety cameras that help change dangerous driving behaviors and make streets and intersections safer for everyone. For more information visit atsol.com.