Allentown, PA (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Children returning to school on the yellow school bus can expect a safer, smarter commute this fall, thanks to the launch of a new safety initiative across Eastern Pennsylvania. Allentown, Bethlehem, Kutztown Area, and Northwestern Lehigh school districts have each partnered with local law enforcement and BusPatrol to tackle the illegal passing of stopped school buses.
More than 300 buses across Berks and Lehigh counties will be outfitted with automated enforcement technology to detect the license plates of vehicles that fail to stop for school buses, putting children at risk. The video evidence is shared with local law enforcement for review before a citation is issued.
The programs will go live on Monday, August 29, to coincide with the start of the new school year. In addition to enforcement, the initiative includes an education and awareness campaign to remind motorists of school bus safety laws and teach students safety tips for getting on and off school buses.
“Kutztown Area is grateful and excited to partner with BusPatrol, Kutztown Borough Police, and the Pennsylvania State Police to provide a level of safety our students, families, and bus drivers deserve through this brilliant legislation. Citizen advocacy initiated interest and awareness for us just as it did in Allentown,” said Christian Temchatin, the Superintendent of Schools at Kutztown Area School District.
Dr. Troy Sosnovik, the Assistant Superintendent at Northwestern Lehigh School District, added: “Student safety is a top priority for Northwestern Lehigh School District. We bus students across 110 square miles. This program allows us to increase safety for the students we transport each school day.”
Last October, Pennsylvania authorities reported more than 250 stop-arm violations in one day during Operation Safe Stop. In 2020, Allentown School District captured more than 200 illegal passings on just two school buses over a 47-day stop-arm study. This is equal to 2.18 violations per bus per day.
Jean Souliere, CEO and Founder of BusPatrol, said that the safety initiative is proven to make roads safer: “Every day, thousands of cars ignore school bus stop-arms and speed past school buses as children are stepping on and off. Sadly, this dangerous motorist behavior is only getting worse. Our safety programs combine education and enforcement to change driver behavior and ensure that all motorists know when to stop for the big yellow bus. In some communities, our programs have reduced the rate of illegal passing by up to 30% YoY.”
The program will also see school buses upgraded with additional safety features such as 360° cloud-connected cameras, GPS tracking, and emergency response solutions. All technology, installation, and maintenance are provided at zero cost to the school district or taxpayer.
The school bus safety programs with Allentown, Bethlehem, Kutztown Area, and Northwestern Lehigh school districts are part of a wider statewide initiative. Tens of school districts across Pennsylvania are partnering with BusPatrol to launch safety programs this school year.
As stated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, motorists must stop at least 10 feet away from school buses that have their red lights flashing and stop-arm extended. The penalty for a first-time violation is $300.
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