Stop-arm cameras to be installed on local school buses

KEYC News Now at 5 Recording
Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 5:48 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Both Palmer Bus service and the Blue Earth County sheriff’s department say drivers need to follow state law and stop their vehicles once a bus extends its stop arm, for one clear reason.

“Our children’s safety: keeping them safe outside of the bus,” said Shane Johnson, COO of Palmer Bus Service.

“We do take stop arm violations serious,” said Paul Barta of the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department.

The state’s Office of Traffic Safety says law enforcement cited almost 4,700 drivers since 2017 for stop arm violations.

In Blue Earth County, for the past two years, at least four stop arm citations have occurred each year. And the problem is only increasing.

“Stop arm violations, by themselves, even at its lowest level, is a misdemeanor level offense. So, more significant, I guess, than a speeding ticket,” said Barta.

In an effort to ensure the safety of children getting on and off the bus, Palmer was one of the 19 transportation companies funded by the state for stop arm camera installation.

“When a vehicle goes through the stop arm. that camera is identifying the vehicle. It could catch the color, the make, model, and, of course, the license plate, which then is going to identify the owner of that vehicle,” said Johnson.

“It’s very clear by and large. It’s very high quality video from the examples that I’ve seen of it,” said Barta.

The cameras can send either still photos or videos to law enforcement.

“When we hear an allegation or we get a report of a stop our violation, especially when there is that video evidence that’s available that helps us track it back, we’re gonna work on that and we’re going to try to get some accountability for that driver,” explained Barta.

“Safety of our children is the most important thing that all of us contractors or school bus companies out there can do and provide. So, again, it’s keeping our kids safe,” said Johnson.