St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - In an effort to change dangerous driving behaviors and keep students safe, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety has awarded more than $3.7 million to 42 schools and transportation companies for stop-arm camera systems.

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This is Phase 2 of a project that is a joint effort with the Minnesota State Patrol and its school bus safety work.

Stop Arm Camera Grant Project

  • This second round of grant awards represents Phase 2 of a larger stop-arm camera grant project. The full list of Phase 2 grantees can be found here.
  • DPS-OTS announced Phase 1 grant awards of more than $3.5 million to 32 schools and transportation companies in February 2022.
  • Minnesota state legislators approved $14.7 million in total funding for this project for 2022 and 2023.

The grants will reimburse schools and transportation companies for purchasing and installing stop-arm camera systems and supporting software programs.

“Schoolkids shouldn’t have to worry when getting on and off the bus, and no parent should have to fear losing their child to a careless driver,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Bus drivers see the violations and near misses. They have a lot to pay attention to as drivers so the camera systems will be an additional, effective tool to help them and law enforcement find the violators. The cameras will help keep kids safe, hold selfish or inattentive drivers accountable, and change dangerous driving choices.”

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Law enforcement agencies work with schools and transportation companies 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.

Stop Arm Violations Cited 2017 - 2021

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

The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services conducted its illegal passing survey in Minnesota. For the one-day survey this year, school bus drivers observed 1,003 stop-arm violations.

Minnesota State School Bus Traffic Laws

  • State law requires all vehicles to stop for school buses when the bus driver activates the flashing lights and has the stop arm fully extended.
  • Drivers who violate the law face a $500 fine.
  • Drivers can face criminal charges for passing a school bus on the right, passing when a child is outside the bus or injuring or killing a child.

Helpful Safety Tips for Motorists:

  • Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights or a stop arm when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.
  • Motorists should slow down, pay attention and anticipate school children and buses, especially in neighborhoods and school zones.
  • The best way to be aware of your surroundings at all times is to put the distractions away.

Helpful Safety Tips for Students:

  • When getting off a bus, look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder.
  • Wait for the bus driver to signal that it’s safe to cross.
  • When crossing the street to get on the bus or to go home, make eye contact with motorists before proceeding.

Below is a video from the Minnesota State Patrol that is another useful safety resource.

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