The Eanes Independent School District, in partnership with Rollingwood, West Lake Hills, and Austin Police Departments, has kicked off a new program that automatically will ticket drivers who illegally pass school buses. Known as the Stop Arm Camera Program, automated cameras are used to record and identify offenders.
The new program includes additional interior and exterior cameras. The footage also can be downloaded and reviewed by District officials after an accident or after an on-bus incident, for example. A special camera that films cars following buses can be tapped for information in the case of student abduction.
“We are hopeful that this program will serve as a wake-up call for those who threaten the safety of our children as they board and exit school buses,” said Eanes Superintendent Dr. Tom Leonard. “Our priority is the safety of our students, whether at school or traveling to and from school.”
A study in March 2013 found 26 violations of school bus passing in one day in Eanes ISD. An additional study showed “close to four violations on one bus, on one day,” according to the District.
Tim Wysong, Eanes ISD Director of Transportation, said, “Deterrent programs such as these have been quite successful at reducing school bus red light violations, which reduces risk to our students. Nationwide, these programs have seen a 15 to 20 percent reduction in violations per year, but even more telling is that only one percent of motorists receive a second violation, which shows a possible modifying of motorist behavior.”
The District previously had some cameras but was unable to enforce ticketing until the partnership with the police departments. In 2011, Eanes ISD added LED signs to the rear doors of 25 buses; the signs flash text when the bus is making a stop.
The new program comes at no cost to the District, and, in fact, the District will retain 20 percent of the fines from the tickets, with another 20 percent going to the municipality, and the remainder going to BusGuard, the installer and maintainer of the cameras.
Graphic courtesy Eanes ISD press release.