Prince George’s County public school buses have received upgrades intended to deter drivers from illegally passing stopped buses when students are getting on and off, the county announced last week.
The county is attaching stop-arm cameras to the side of buses that will capture video of traffic violations, PGCPS CEO Monica Goldson said in a news release. The county will begin using the cameras April 8, when some students are expected to return to in-person instruction, according to the release.
The cameras are part of a partnership between PGCPS, Prince George’s County Police and BusPatrol, the company providing the safety technology.
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Maryland law requires drivers stop when approaching a school bus from either direction when its lights are flashing and the stop-arm is extended. In 2019, Maryland school bus drivers recorded 3,194 violations of this law in a single day, according to The Baltimore Sun.
The cameras will address this issue — as well as the concern that drivers may have forgotten how important school bus safety laws are amid the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual learning, when buses have been off the roads, said Jean Souliere, CEO and founder of BusPatrol, in a news release.
“Our program is proven to change driver behavior and 95% of drivers that are ticketed for passing a school bus never receive a second ticket,” Souliere said in the release. “We are proud to work with Prince George’s County to ensure as safe a return to school as possible for all students.”
The school system will also implement contact tracing tools to protect students and bus drivers from contracting COVID-19. These tools include interior cameras, GPS, ridership cards, tablets and a reporting system to ensure sanitization protocols are standardized and verified, according to the release.