Caught on Tape: Iowa School District Uses Digital Video Technology to Curb Stop-Arm Violations

(Excerpt below.  See full article on Honeywell Security website)

School buses are the safest vehicles on the road – 70 times safer than cars, light trucks and vans. Yet an average of 33 school-aged children are killed each year in bus-related accidents in the United States; the majority of those deaths occur in the “danger zone,” the 10-foot area surrounding the bus, because of passing motorists who disregard a bus’ stop arm.

Spencer Community School District, located in northwestern Iowa and serving more than 2,400 students, is one of the fortunate districts – not a single fatality has been recorded despite the dozens of motorists who made a habit of illegally passing school buses. The district’s transportation supervisor, Dan Schultz, intends it to stay that way.

Schultz heard the bus drivers’ complaints of passing motorists, but didn’t know how to prove these violations were occurring. He knew there must be a solution and began researching video technology that would record stop-arm violations – irrefutable evidence of breaking the law.

Schultz was especially concerned about stop-arm violations occurring around the bus that carried Spencer’s 3- and 4-year-old vulnerable pre-schoolers. With the blessing of the Iowa Pupil Transportation Association (IPTA), the Iowa Department of Education purchased one VHS-based analog video recording system for Schultz to use on the pre-school bus. The camera was mounted on the inside of the bus facing outward, and recorded drivers who passed illegally.

When a stop-arm violation occurred, bus drivers would say the car’s license plate number out loud, describe the vehicle and make note of any witnesses, all of which was recorded through the system’s audio input. The driver would then report the violation to Schultz, who filled out an incident report. Schultz then turned the case and the video over to the police, to further investigate the violation and identify the offender.

In a six-month trial period with one camera installed on the pre-school bus, 40 drivers were caught and all but three pleaded guilty after viewing the tape. The local newspaper and radio station reported on Spencer’s new recording system, and drivers took notice.

In the second six-month recording period, only four drivers were caught passing school buses.

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