Over the last few months, there have been multiple fatal school bus accidents in the US. Tragically, children were hit while crossing the street to board their buses and while waiting at bus stops. Although school buses are considered the safest vehicles on the road by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), not all motorist follow or even know the traffic laws when coming to loading and unloading school buses.
In an effort to help keep students safe as they are getting on or off the bus, Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) added exterior cameras to its buses. These cameras capture pictures and videos of motorists illegally passing when stop arms are extended and red lights are flashing. The cameras are activated by sensors when a bus’s stop-arm is deployed. The camera can detect a vehicle passing in any direction and capture license plates as well as the vehicle’s GPS location.
Images will be reviewed by the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) and can result in $250 citations for the drivers at fault.
What is Virginia‘s Code?
Under the Virginia Code, drivers approaching a school bus may not pass if the bus’s stop-arm is extended or its red lights are flashing. Even if the red lights have only begun flashing and the stop-arm is not fully yet extended, drivers are still required to stop until all students have finished loading or unloading and the school bus is back in motion. You do not have to stop if you are traveling in the opposite direction on a roadway with a median or barrier dividing the road and the bus is on the opposite side of the median or barrier. More information can be found here Virginia Code.
A 2018 National Stop Arm Violation Count survey by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services revealed that on a single day across 38 states as well as the District of Columbia, 83,944 vehicles passed school buses illegally. Those results point to more than 15 million violations across the span of a school year.
“This is a national problem, and if we can do something to prevent a single tragedy we will,” said VBCPS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence. “We hope that no citations are issued. We hope that motorists choose to always stop. It only takes a minute or so out of a driver’s time for children to get on or off the bus safely.”
At Williams DeLoatche, P.C. we hope that the addition of these school bus cameras will deter drivers from not stopping properly for school bus pickups and drop-offs.
If you need additional information about traffic law violations in the state of Virginia, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 757-547-5555. We are ready to assist you!
Virginia Beach City Public Schools
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)