March 25, 2021
For Immediate Release
UPPER MARLBORO, MD — Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) is launching a new school bus safety program in partnership with Prince George’s County Police Department and BusPatrol, a leading provider of school bus safety technology.
All 1,216 buses in the PGCPS fleet have been upgraded with safety technology from BusPatrol and its technology partners Zonar, Samsung and Transfinder at no cost to the school system or taxpayers. Revenue generated from citations will be used to fund the installation and maintenance of the equipment.
The technology package includes cloud-connected stop-arm cameras on the side of school buses that can capture 180 degrees and up to eight lanes of traffic. These will deter drivers from illegally passing stopped school buses and putting children at risk as they step on and off.
The program will go live on Thursday, April 8, when the first set of students return to school. Drivers who ignore the school bus stop law on or after this date should expect to receive a $250 citation in the mail.
“As operators of one of the largest school bus fleets in the nation, we are constantly exploring new ways to ensure safe and dependable student transportation,” said Dr. Monica Goldson, PGCPS Chief Executive Officer. “The new stop-arm cameras that will capture video of traffic violations are just one way we are leveraging technology to improve student safety both on and off of school buses.”
Jean Souliere, CEO and Founder at BusPatrol, believes the partnerships come at an important time: “School buses in Prince George’s County have been off roads for several weeks and drivers may have forgotten the importance of school bus safety laws. There is no better time to launch a school bus safety program to protect students and educate motorists.
“Our program is proven to change driver behavior and 95% of drivers that are ticketed for passing a school bus never receive a second ticket. We are proud to work with Prince George’s County to ensure as safe a return to school as possible for all students.”
According to data from The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, there are an estimated 17 million stop-arm violations each school year in the U.S. In Maryland, school bus drivers recorded a total of 3,194 violations in a single day in 2019, as reported in The Baltimore Sun. Every time a driver illegally passes a stopped school bus, they put a child at risk.
In addition to the program addressing the illegal passing of school buses, the newly acquired smart fleet management solutions include COVID-19 mitigation, sanitization and contact tracing tools to help protect student riders and school bus drivers. Cloud-connected interior cameras and Zonar student tracking and management tools such as GPS, RFID-enabled ridership cards, and tablets, will enhance contact tracing procedures for school transportation officials. Additionally, Electronic Verified Inspection Reporting (EVIR®), for verifying pre- and post- trip bus inspections and ensuring COVID-19 sanitization protocols are standardized and verified digitally, making it safer for student riders and school bus drivers.
The school bus stopping law in Maryland requires drivers approaching in both directions to stop for a stopped school bus with its lights flashing and stop-arm extended.