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Previous blogs we have had on our website have discussed illegal passing of school buses being a national concern and substantial safety problem. A school district in Virginia Beach, VA, is working on alleviating this problem by adding exterior cameras to some of its school buses in an effort to prevent illegal passing and keep students safe as they load and unload.
The cameras that Virginia Beach City Public Schools installed on 100 of its buses capture images and videos of motorists illegally passing buses when stop arms are extended and red lights are flashing. The cameras are activated by sensors when a bus’s stop arm is deployed, can detect a vehicle passing in any direction, and can capture license plates as well as the vehicle's GPS location.
Images will be reviewed by the Virginia Beach Police Department and may result in $250 citations for drivers who are found to be at fault.
This is the first phase of camera implementation, according to the district. Virginia Beach City Public Schools and the city’s police department will monitor the program and determine whether cameras need to be installed on more buses. David Pace, the district’s executive director of transportation was quoted as saying that their hope is that they won’t need additional cameras, because motorists are stopping to keep students safe.
State law says that drivers approaching a school bus may not pass if the bus's stop arm is extended or its red lights are flashing. They are required to wait until all students have finished boarding or exiting and the school bus is back in motion. An exception to the rule is if a driver's vehicle is separated from a school bus by a solid barrier or median.
A National Stop Arm Violation Count survey conducted by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) in 2018 revealed that on a single day in 38 states, plus the District of Columbia, 83,944 vehicles illegally passed school buses. Throughout a 180-day school year, those results point to more than 15 million violations across the span of a school year.
The camera installation was made possible through Virginia Beach City Public School's partnership with the City of Virginia Beach and the Virginia Beach Police Department.