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387 vehicles illegally passed SCUSD school buses during processes of picking up and dropping off kids, study says

In a pilot program with safety technology company, BusPatrol, SCUSD saw its buses being illegally passed over 300 times in three months.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In November 2021, the Sacramento City Unified School District announced it would participate in a pilot program equipping five school buses with artificial intelligence to improve safety.

Dubbed "stop-arm cameras," the motion detecting cameras can deploy the stop sign on the side of school buses when cars try to illegally pass.

Three months later, the results are in. According to a pilot program with safety technology company, BusPatrol, SCUSD saw its buses being illegally passed 387 times while they were stopped to load and unload children. 

"In this study in Sacramento, it wasn't a surprise to see what we've seen everywhere. What was a surprise to us was the data that we were pulling from our California pilots, which are some of the worst in the nation," said Jean Souliere, CEO and Founder at BusPatrol. "For one of the busses in Sacramento, to record almost four violations per day is kind of scary, actually, like we rarely see that kind of delinquents."

According to BusPatrol, this equates to 1.3 stop-arm violations per bus per day. 

"Sacramento City Unified School District is committed to ensuring student safety both at school and on the journey there and back," said Christina Pritchett, President, Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Education in a press release. "This pilot program only captured a fraction of the problem and shows that more needs to be done. People need to learn that stop means stop."

Related: Sacramento City Unified School District testing cameras on 5 school bus stop signs

According to BusPatrol, California state law requires vehicles to stop for a stopped school bus with its stop-arm extended and red lights flashing. Under current legislation, school districts and law enforcement agencies are not permitted to use automated stop-arm cameras to cite violators.

School district officials said they intend to use data and results form the pilot program to campaign for legislation approving the use of auto stop-arm cameras throughout California. Santa Rosa County District School is also testing the pilot program.

Souliere says there is currently a bill, Assembly Bill 2084, that was introduced by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer that enables civil monetary penalties to be issued to the owner of a vehicle whose car illegally passes a stop school bus.

Simply put, drivers will get a ticket.

"So that's the first piece it does," Souliere said. "The second piece, which is absolutely critical to adoption, is that it allows school districts to use that fine revenue to contract with vendors like us … what that means is in bus patrols programs across the country, we install to 100% of the fleet without charging school districts anything."

To read more about BusPatrol and its programs, click here.

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