Safety at heart of QCSD agreement with BusPatrol

The Quakertown Community School District has entered into an agree­ment ded­i­cat­ed to stu­dent trans­porta­tion safe­ty with BusPatrol, which is equip­ping Levy School Buses with stop-arm enforce­ment cam­eras to deter dri­vers from ille­gal­ly pass­ing stopped school buses.

BusPatrol’s cam­era sys­tem is posi­tioned to cap­ture vehi­cles that pass a school bus while the stop arm is extend­ed and flash­ing red lights are acti­vat­ed. Law enforce­ment, through QCSD part­ner­ships with Quakertown Borough, Richland Township, and State Police, will review the footage to deter­mine whether to issue a vio­la­tion by mail.

I love this,” said Board mem­ber Todd Hippauf. “I think this is a no-brainer.”

Janet Pelone, Quakertown Community School District’s Director of Transportation and Pupil Services, said “We hope this pro­gram will help bring aware­ness to the com­mu­ni­ty to be more care­ful around school bus­es at any time of day. We want every­one to get where they are going, but to do so safely.”

Levy School Bus dri­vers have spo­ken pos­i­tive­ly of the pro­gram, which is in line with PA Motor Vehicle Code § 3345, and is sched­uled to begin in mid-September. 

Pennsylvania’s Operation Safe Stop report­ed more than 250 ille­gal pass­es in just one school day in 2021, and reports esti­mate that state school bus­es are ille­gal­ly passed 2.18 times per bus per day. Quakertown is no excep­tion. Over time, this safe­ty ini­tia­tive seeks to curb dan­ger­ous dri­ving behav­ior around school buses.

In addi­tion to auto­mat­ed enforce­ment tech­nol­o­gy, Levy School Buses will be out­fit­ted with oth­er crit­i­cal safe­ty fea­tures, includ­ing inte­ri­or cam­eras, GPS track­ing, and emer­gency response solu­tions. All of this tech­nol­o­gy has been pro­vid­ed at zero cost to QCSD tax­pay­ers as the pro­gram is 100 per­cent vio­la­tor funded.

Once law enforce­ment con­firms that a vio­la­tion occurred notice is gen­er­at­ed by BusPatrol and sent to the reg­is­tered own­er of the vehi­cle. No points are assessed to the vehicle’s own­er. The vio­la­tion is $300, with $25 going to a state stu­dent safe­ty grant, $25 to the local police depart­ment, $100 to QCSD, and $150 to BusPatrol.

Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law requires dri­vers to stop at least 10 feet away from school bus­es that have their red lights flash­ing and stop arm extend­ed. That’s con­sid­ered the Danger Zone — the area on all sides of the bus where stu­dents are in the most dan­ger of not being seen by the dri­ver (10 feet in front of the bus where the dri­ver may be too high to see a stu­dent, 10 feet on either side of the bus where a stu­dent may be in the driver’s blind spot, and the area behind the school bus).

Motorists must stop when they are behind the bus, meet­ing the bus or approach­ing an inter­sec­tion where a bus is stopped. Motorists fol­low­ing or trav­el­ing along­side a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flash­ing, the stop arm is with­drawn, and all chil­dren have reached safe­ty. This includes undi­vid­ed high­ways, such as Route 309, for example.

This is one of the most seri­ous traf­fic offens­es that’s impos­si­ble to enforce the way it’s set up right now unless you have video pic­tures,” Board mem­ber Chuck Shermer said.

According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, dri­vers across the U.S. are report­ed to dri­ve past stopped school bus­es 17 mil­lion times a year.