Traffic accidents that involve drivers not obeying the stop arm on a school bus are some of the most tragic the most preventable.  While the law says that drivers who encounter a stopped school bus with it's stop arm extended must come to a complete stop, too often the opposite happens.  And it seems like the problem is getting worse.

A new initiative in a number of public schools in Douglas County seeks to change that.  Recently, the school buses in Superior, Maple, and Solon Springs were equipped with traffic cameras.  Transportation officials hope that the cameras will alleviate the problem with a two-prong approach:  Both in the prevention (through awareness) and - if the need be - in the investigation of a broken law.

The cameras cost about $140 each.  Cost for a school bus arm violation is $326.50.  The value to saving one life is immeasurable.

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Often, when a driver runs through a stop arm, it's difficult to apprehend them or to even identify the vehicle.  In article in the Superior Telegram, Maple School District Administrator Sara Croney explains:

"It is difficult to get a plate number since [the school bus driver] need[s] to be warning the students and keeping them out of danger.  With the cameras now, the drivers radio in the time it happens, bring the camera into the office, and we pull all the information from the camera."

While school bus stop-arm violations have always been a problem, it seems like things have gotten worse in the last few years. Distracted driving has only gotten worse with the variety of electronics used by drivers these days - especially cell phones.

That article in the Telegram outlines the depth of the problem already this school year.  In the one month since this school year started, there have already been violation reports.  In Maple, that number sits at eight already - "roughly two per week".  "Bus drivers in Superior have reported a stop arm violation every other day, on average".  In Solon Springs, drivers there report fewer - roughly "three to five per year".  However, the aim is towards having zero violations.  Or - if there are violations - being able to identify the suspect and provide the legal consequences.

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Transportation officials with all of the school districts involved agreed that the aim here is not to "catch: someone in the act of doing something wrong.  The cameras are being installed to encourage drivers to do the right things around school buses:  slow down, be alert, avoid distractions, and - first and foremost - come to a complete stop when the lights are red and the stop-arm is extended.

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