Examination of Three Districts Implementing Stop-Arm Camera Programs to Enforce Laws Against Illegal Passing of Stopped School Buses
School bus stop-arm cameras are an emerging strategy used by school jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies to address the issue of drivers illegally passing stopped school buses. A stop-arm camera typically records video of vehicles and/or drivers who pass school buses when the stop-arm is extended. Several States have passed legislation allowing the use of stop-arm cameras on school buses and others have indicated they plan to propose similar legislation. The current study included: (1) a literature review of implementations around the United States; (2) a detailed examination of stop-arm camera implementation in three school districts (Arlington Public Schools, VA; Bellevue Public Schools, NE; and Rankin County School District, MS); and (3) an analysis of previously collected camera-enforcement data from an additional 33 districts obtained from a camera vendor. The three districts that participated in the study provided information about their experiences in implementing photo enforcement. They offered: (1) their experiences with legislation; (2) reactions and experiences of their bus drivers; (3) efforts to educate and inform the public; (4) cooperation with law enforcement; (5) successes and challenges in issuing citations and penalties; and (6) lessons learned. Overall, the number of illegal passes reported in the three study sites was much higher when captured by stop-arm cameras as opposed to detailed paper forms completed by bus drivers, but the number of violations captured by stop-arm cameras was less than the number of violators noted during jurisdiction-wide, one-day paper surveys conducted in these districts. In addition, in these three districts, the number of illegal passes reported was much higher (at least 35 times higher) when reported by camera-equipped buses versus officer-observed passes. Stakeholder feedback from the three districts was used to assess the effect of stop-arm cameras on illegal school bus passing and to understand common issues or concerns with programs. While public support for photo enforcement varied widely, bus drivers were generally in support of the cameras. Stakeholder feedback emphasized the importance of districts considering photo enforcement to review information from and in consult with districts with existing programs.
Read the full study here.