Cheltenham School District (CSD) students who ride to school on the yellow school bus can expect a safer, smarter commute thanks to a new safety initiative in Cheltenham Township. The school district has partnered with local law enforcement and BusPatrol to tackle cars illegally passing stopped school buses.
As part of the safety initiative, the entire fleet of 101 Cheltenham School District 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 will be shared with local law enforcement for review before a citation is issued.
The programs will go live on Monday, Oct. 16, the beginning of school bus safety week, 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.
“We are pleased to be able to offer this service to our families,” said CSD Superintendent Dr. Brian W. Scriven. “Student safety is our top priority and that extends to riding the bus. This program will elevate safety at our bus stops, and is a win-win for student safety in a no cost effort to curb the illegal passing of stopped school buses across the township.”
This past October, Pennsylvania authorities reported more than 250 stop-arm violations in one day during Operation Safe Stop. In 2020, Allentown School District captured over 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.
Kate Spree, a spokesperson for 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, CSD will 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 five-year term.
“Our priority is the safety of our children while getting on and off the bus,” said Cheltenham Township Police Department Chief John Slavin. “Whether drivers are distracted or running late, children’s lives are not worth the risk. Our aim is to educate drivers, change their behavior and improve the safety of our students while getting on and off the school bus.
“Under the Bus Patrol Program, if a motorist passes a school bus with flashing red lights and the stop-arm extended, the camera will record their license plate and a citation may be issued. The penalty for a first-time violation is $300. Please do your part to help us ensure the safety of our students as they travel back and forth to school!”
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 cheltenham.org/buspatrol.
BusPatrol is a safety technology company with the mission of making the journey to and from school safer for children. BusPatrol’s safety programs change driver behavior and create a culture of awareness and responsibility around school buses. In addition, they provide accessibility for school districts and municipalities to modernize their entire school bus fleets by outfitting them with the latest stop-arm, route planning, and route execution technology.