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School Bus Companies Install Cameras To Catch Drivers Ignoring Stop Arms

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) -- There is new effort to crack down on drivers ignoring the stop arm on school buses in Bloomington.

The stop arms are meant to help kids cross the street safely after they get off the bus but data from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety estimates drivers blow past stop arms more than 100,000 times in a given school year. Now buses outfitted with a series of cameras will be able to catch a violator's car, their face and their license plate if they drive through a stop arm and they could have to pay a hefty fine.

The School Bus Safety Coalition announced the new initiative Monday at the Bloomington Public Schools Transportation Center.

Any cars caught on camera driving past the stop arm when it's out could face a fine of $300.

Right now two buses in Bloomington have these cameras installed, but the school district received enough grant money set aside in a bill that was passed last year to soon outfit a total of 60.

Bloomington bus drivers still have to go through training but the buses here will hit the streets soon.

Leaders said 98% of people who've received this violation never get a second one.

"It's also a conversation piece," said Steve Randazzo, executive vice president of BusPatrol America. "It's an education tool because when you get that violation in the mail it leads to a conversation at home. It leads to a broader conversation and buzz among the community that the community and the government those who care about this issue are taking it seriously."

There are five cameras total on a bus and they are operating when the buses are on but they only record when the stop arm goes out.

Now leaders are calling on the legislature to pass dedicated funding collected from fines that can be used for maintenance and up-keep for the camera systems.

Minnesota Coaches, Inc. received the most amount of grant money in the state at more than $1.2 million. That is enough to outfit 557 buses in Dakota, Ramsey, Hennepin, Houston and St. Louis counties. Palmer Bus Financial Management, Inc. was second receiving more than $900,000 in grant money for 396 buses in 25 school districts in Minnesota. The Bloomington school district received the fourth highest amount at more than $154,000. Click here to see which districts and bus companies are on the list to receive funds.

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