LORTON, Va. — Children enjoyed a safer, smarter return to school last week thanks to a new safety initiative in Allegheny County. East Allegheny School District has partnered with local law enforcement and BusPatrol to tackle the illegal passing of stopped school buses.
As part of the safety initiative, the entire fleet of 38 buses has been 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 program went live Thursday, August 24, for the first day of school. In preparation, East Allegheny School District launched an education and public awareness campaign 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 is a positive and creative example of the East Allegheny School District doing what we can to protect our students. Student safety must be a priority even at our bus stops. We appreciate our working relationship with BusPatrol to emphasize this priority. ” Mark Draskovich, District Safety Coordinator.
During Operation Safe Stop 2021, Pennsylvania authorities reported over 250 stop-arm violations in one school day. In 2020, Allentown School District captured over 200 illegal passings on just two 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: “We’re committed to making the ride to and from school safer for every child by equipping every bus in a fleet with cutting-edge safety technology. Our program is proven to change driver behavior and reduce violations by up to 30% YoY. We’re excited to partner with East Allegheny School District this back-to-school, to work together to make roads safer.”
In addition to stop-arm cameras, the district 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 5-year term.
The partnership with East Allegheny School District follows the success of the BusPatrol program in Pittsburgh. Earlier this year, Pittsburgh School District announced the start of the BusPatrol safety program across its 150 school buses.
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.
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.