According to the National Safety Council, 25 million students across the country spend time on a school bus during the day: “Designed for safety, with flashing lights, giant mirrors, high seat backs, and that bright yellow color, school buses keep more than 17 million cars away from school buildings every day.” The NSC says that without a doubt, school buses are simply the safest way to get to school—13 times safer than riding in the family vehicle.
However, no system is perfect, and accidents around school buses do happen. A priority for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services is working to stop accidents that occur when drivers bypass the bus stop-arm, that blinking light that extends a stop sign when the bus stops to load or unload passengers.
While it’s illegal in every state to drive past the arm, last year six schoolchildren were killed in the United States by vehicles that had driven through stop-arms. Moreover, School Transportation News reports that in a one-day survey of 29 states, over 97,000 school bus drivers reported nearly 76,000 illegal passes. Drivers busy ensuring the safety of their students don’t have time to write down information about these drivers, who continue on with no repercussions for potentially endangering children.
Clearly, this is not okay. Thousands of drivers put school-age children in harm’s way each day. This motivated Nebraskan manufacturer Radio Engineering Industries to do something about it. Vice president of sales Curtiss Routh explains that their new video camera system attaches to the side of the school bus to record the make, model, and license plate of vehicles that blow past the extended stop-arm. The system will wirelessly send information to school officials, who can forward on to law enforcement.
“Cameras will not stop drivers from violating the law,” Routh tells School Transportation News. “But if drivers know they will be recorded on video cameras, and if drivers are prosecuted, the illegal behavior may be reduced; statistics show that less than one percent of those ticketed receive a second citation.”
So far, the manufacturer has worked with Bellevue Public Schools to place systems on 10 of Bellevue’s buses. They’ve also worked with districts like Mehlville School District in Missouri, who says that “in our initial order, the Mehlville School district purchased 40 video surveillance systems from REI. We purchased ten additional units this year, and are now including REI in the bus specs when ordering new vehicles.”
If you’re interested in reading more about the benefits of video surveillance to ensure student safety, both inside and outside the bus, check out this list from REI here. And if you’re interested in working with a manufacturer dedicated to transportation safety, you can find their open careers section here.