Pennsylvania school districts are now permitted to enter into partnerships with stop-arm camera companies and local police to catch and fine motorists who illegally pass a stopped school bus.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf strengthened the state’s school bus stop-arm camera law on July 1 with the signing of House Bill 364.
While the previous law allowed the installation of stop-arm cameras, School Bus Stop-am Camera Law, Act 159 of 2018, was hard to enforce. An “exorbitant” number of motorists were still passing stopped school buses while students boarded or exited.
Pilot programs conducted by video enforcement company BusPatrol at Allentown School District and Trinity Area School District indicated an additional need to crack down on illegal passers. Allentown logged 205 violations over a nearly four-month period, according to a press release issued by the state.
The new legislation, introduced in February 2019, increases the number of buses in districts across the state equipped with stop-arm cameras. Stop-arm camera companies can now enter into contracts with school districts and local police to provide their services free of charge in exchange for part of the revenue generated by the fine.
The law states that motorists who illegally pass school buses will be fined $300 for a violation.
The school district shall receive $250 of the fine, which can be used for the installation or maintenance of the stop-arm cameras. The remaining funds will be split between the police department for reviewing the evidence package and determining that a violation occurred and the state’s School Bus Safety Grant Program. The grant program was established in 2018 and aims to provide automated enforcement of failure to stop for school buses with flashing lights red lights.
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School Transportation News previously reported on BusPatrol’s and Zonar’s partnership with Chesapeake Public Schools in Virginia. Stop-arm cameras were installed on all of the districts 583 school buses free of charge.
The Pennsylvania law also allows for school buses to be equipped with permanently affixed or removable yellow flashing lights or revolving lights, as determined by regulation of the department. The light shall only be operated when preparing to stop, or when the school bus is stopped and loading and unloading students.