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Stop Arm Cameras Target Illegal Passers

Stop Arm Cameras Target Illegal Passers
7:47 a.m. route to Woodbury High School on Sept. 16, 2022

A vehicle illegally passes a SoWashCo Schools bus during a morning route to Woodbury High School on Sept. 16, 2022 

South Washington County Schools (SoWashCo Schools) has installed stop arm cameras on 44 buses to help keep students safe. The cameras are activated by the bus driver when vehicles illegally pass the school bus while the stop sign is flashing.

Each bus is equipped with three cameras, one just under the stop arm, another near the top rear side of the school bus and one above the entrance door

“We have already seen results,” said Carrie Olson, Director of Transportation. “Nearly every day, we receive videos of at least one driver ignoring the flashing stop lights and putting students at risk.”

During just one day on Sept. 28, SoWashCo Schools bus drivers reported eight stop arm violations.

With the goal of reducing close calls during loading and unloading, the video captures the violator’s license plate, the vehicle and the driver to submit to local police departments for investigation. 

side of school bus with stop sign open and flashing with a camera below it

One camera is located near the front of the bus near the flashing stop arm.  

Local law enforcement agencies work with the school district to cite drivers failing to stop for school buses with flashing lights and stop arms extended. In the past five years, law enforcement cited 4,652 drivers for stop arm violations in Minnesota. Drivers who violate the law face a $500 fine and can face additional criminal charges including for passing a school bus on the right, passing when a child is outside the bus, or injuring or killing a child.

Close up camera

The bus stop arm cameras are activated by the bus driver when a vehicle illegally passes during loading or unloading of students.

stop 20 feet away from school bus with stop arm

State law requires all vehicles to stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.

Minnesota Stop Arm Violations Cited 2017 - 2021

  • 2017 – 1,120 violations​
  • 2018 – 1,075 violations​
  • 2019 – 1,176 violations
  • 2020 – 512 violations
  • 2021 – 769 violations

Funding for the cameras was made available through a grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety that provided more than $3.7 million to schools and bus companies. SoWashCo Schools expects to install cameras to the remainder of its bus fleet as additional grants are released.