The new law also allows school districts and bus companies to use fines from the violations to maintain the camera systems.
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Close call after close call, there’s no shortage of videos that capture people violating the school bus stop arm.
In May of 2019, a school bus captured video of a 4th grader, almost hit by a passing car, when the car did not stop for the school bus.
“He didn’t see the bus driver tell us to come past, but I did, so I went and crossed,” said Ambriel Johnson — a fourth-grader at the time.
Years of patrolling have not put a complete stop to the stop-arm violation.
However, what Bloomington Public Schools started doing in January of 2019 became a reality for 1,754 buses today, as lawmakers announced the passage of legislation that includes a grant that will equip school buses with camera systems to catch those who drive past school buses.
The other part of the law also includes how the districts and bus companies would fund the program.
“It increases the penalty for those who blow by our school bus stop arms. It increases it to a petty misdemeanor penalty of 300 dollars, and it pays for itself,” Representative Dan Wolgamott (D-St. Cloud) said. “Of that 300 dollars, 250 dollars of it go directly to the school districts where the violation occurs for the purchase, installation and maintenance of stop signal camera systems.”
Senior Vice President Steve Randazzo of BusPatrol America, the company behind the camera system, says this works not just as a slap on the wrist, but also to curb recidivism.
“Historically, 98 percent of folks who receive this violation in the mail never receive a second one, dramatic behavioral change, dramatic curbing of dangerous driver behavior across all of our programs,” Randazzo said.
Currently, 1,754 buses around Minnesota have this technology. Bloomington Public Schools says their systems were installed Friday, so after some quick training with the drivers, the camera-equipped buses will be on the streets soon.