ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Every day in Maryland, thousands of drivers fail to stop for school buses and put the lives of children at risk. Anne Arundel County Public Schools hopes to halt dangerous driving around its school buses beginning this fall with the launch of a new safety initiative in partnership with the Anne Arundel County Government, the Anne Arundel County Police Department, and BusPatrol.
As part of the initiative, the entire AACPS bus fleet of approximately 750 school buses, including those owned by contractors, is being upgraded with advanced safety technology that features AI-powered stop-arm cameras to detect violations and capture the license plates of drivers that illegally pass school buses. This video evidence is shared with local law enforcement for review and validation before a citation is issued.
“There is no bigger cornerstone in the foundation of educational success than the ability to transport students safely to and from our school buildings,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mark T. Bedell said. “This partnership is another step in accomplishing that, and we are grateful to those who have invested time, resources, and energy in it. I urge everyone who utilizes our county’s roads to do so in cautious manner so that we do not put our children at risk.”
The partnership aligns with Anne Arundel County’s recent commitment to Vision Zero, a global movement to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries to zero.
“This program will protect our children, make our roads safer, and give parents some peace of mind,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said. “It is yet another collaboration between our school system, county government, and the private sector that will benefit everyone.”
The program will launch on October 1, 2022, following a warning period and public awareness campaign that will begin with the start of classes on August 29.
Richard Hetherington, Director of Program Management at BusPatrol, said: “In recent years, we have seen an increase in dangerous driving habits with more accidents and tragedies which could have been prevented. The safety program will significantly change driver behavior around school buses in Anne Arundel. Once the program goes live, motorists quickly learn to slow down and respect the yellow bus. After all, it carries our most precious cargo.”
AACPS is the latest Maryland district to implement the BusPatrol Student Safety Platform across its entire fleet. School systems in Carroll, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Queen Anne’s counties are also operating stop-arm safety programs to tackle the issue of illegal passing. In some communities, the program has reduced violations by as much as 30 percent.
In addition to stop-arm cameras, AACPS has also outfitted its buses with additional safety features such as 360-degree safety cameras for a complete view of activity inside and outside the bus, GPS tracking, and emergency response solutions.
The technology, installation, and maintenance of the School Bus Safety Program are funded by violation revenue over a five-year term.
According to state law, vehicles approaching in either direction must stop at least 20 feet away from a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing. Motorists may not proceed until the school vehicle resumes motion or the flashing red lights are deactivated. This does not apply to vehicles approaching on a different roadway or a divided highway.
In addition to enforcement from county police, AACPS will run an awareness campaign to educate motorists, especially new drivers, about school bus safety laws and teach school children how to get on and off the bus as safely as possible.
BusPatrol is a safety technology company with the mission of making the journey to and from school safer for children. More information about the company’s programs can be found at www.buspatrol.com.