American Traffic Solutions secured a five-year contract with the King County Directors Association last week to provide its CrossingGuard school bus stop-arm camera system to KCDA members.
The CrossingGuard system is designed to combat the illegal passing of stopped school buses with extended stop arms — violations that every year injure and kill numerous students and pedestrians across the nation.
ATS estimates that each school day, more than 1,600 Washington State drivers illegally pass an extended school bus stop arm. The goal is to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities related to stop arm violations.
“We’re excited to have an opportunity to partner with KCDA on this important safety initiative,” said James Tuton, CEO of ATS.
Whenever the stop arm is deployed, the CrossingGuard system can automatically detect a vehicle illegally passing the bus in either direction and capture video of the violation and images of that vehicle’s license plate. AngelTrax provides the video surveillance equipment for the photo-enforcement system.
KCDA Executive Director Jim Borrow told School Transportation News that several school districts expressed interest in using this technology after the state legislature passed a bill in 2011 authorizing the use of cameras on stop arms. Washington's law even went so far as to require the one-day count each year.
“School districts had been thinking about this, but they were basically looking for someone else’s contract they could use so they didn’t have to have their own contracts,” Borrow said, adding that KCDA’s efforts end up saving districts both time and money.
The KCDA is a public agency that has handled procurements on behalf of all school districts in Washington, not just in Kings County, for more than 70 years. It is based in Kent, Wash., just south of Seattle.
“We decided it would be appropriate for us to develop specifications and make the solicitation. We had to research what it was about, what the statute called for and put out the RFP. Then, we evaluated the responses and made our recommendation,” he explained.
Now it is up to individual school boards to decide whether to approve and implement the CrossingGuard system. Borrow noted that once a school district gives the go-ahead, the video cameras are installed free of charge. After violators are caught on video and ticketed, the state of Washington gets half of the fine and the school district receives the other half; in turn, the district pays ATS a fee derived from the ticket issued by local police. The monies received by the state are then funneled to interested school districts.
“The purpose is to improve safety. Everyone hopes the number of illegal passing violations will go down once people realize there is more enforcement now,” Borrow continued. “Each school district will determine which routes will use the stop-arm cameras.
“This takes all the burden off bus drivers so they can make sure the children are getting on and off the bus safely.”