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State of Minnesota awards nearly $1.5 million to schools and transportation companies for school bus stop arm cameras

Minnesota Department of Public Safety awarding grants to help with safety, education and enforcement statewide

ST. PAUL — Most drivers understand they must stop for a school bus with red flashing lights and an extended stop arm. For drivers who don’t know the law or place their priorities ahead of student safety, the stop arm camera grant project will help prevent tragedy through education and enforcement.

Sixteen schools and transportation companies are receiving grants for stop arm camera systems. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) announced nearly $1.5 million in its seventh round of grants. Here is the list of Phase 7 grantees.

“As drivers, we need to stay patient, pay attention and not allow our hurried lives to jeopardize a child’s life,” said OTS Director Mike Hanson. “The near-misses and violations are so frightening and aggravating. The stop arm cameras are a welcome relief for bus drivers, parents, students and law enforcement in educating motorists, holding violators accountable and changing dangerous driving behaviors.”

Grant recipients recognize how valuable the project is to protecting Minnesota students.

“We are grateful for receiving additional grant funds because we have already seen the value of current stop arm cameras on half of our bus fleet,” said Anne Marie Leland, director, community education and strategic partnerships, Edina Public Schools. “The anxiety, frustration and stress over stop arm violations are very real for Edina parents and bus drivers. Equipping the remainder of our buses with cameras only improves our ability to work with residents and law enforcement to keep kids safe.”

OTS previously announced nearly $14.2 million in state-funded grant awards in phases 1 through 6 during 2022 and 2023. That funding equipped 6,998 school buses statewide with camera systems, representing about 59 percent of the eligible school bus fleet.

Violations captured with stop arm cameras

Stop arm camera videos from previous grantees highlight the dangerous prevalence of drivers not stopping for flashing lights and extended stop arms. Reporting from some of the earlier phases shows the stop arm camera systems recorded 6,322 violations. This initially led to 1,281 citations from law enforcement.

Minnesota drivers risking students’ lives

Law enforcement agencies work with schools and transportation companies to educate and cite drivers failing to stop for school buses with flashing lights and stop arms extended. Prior to the grant project, law enforcement cited 4,652 drivers for stop arm violations from 2017 to 2021.

Stop arm camera grant project

• The project is a partnership with the Minnesota State Patrol, police departments and sheriff’s offices statewide. Grant applicants provided support letters from local law enforcement agencies, an outreach plan and demonstrated need by sharing violation numbers.

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

Follow the law, keep children safe

• On undivided roads, motorists traveling both directions must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights and an extended stop arm.

• Traffic traveling the opposite direction on a divided roadway with a separating median such as a cement wall or boulevard is not required to stop.

• 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 is to put the distractions away.

• 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.

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.

About the Minnesota Department Public Safety

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 10 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.

About the Office of Traffic Safety

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. These efforts form a strong foundation for the statewide Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program, child seats for needy families program and school bus stop arm camera project.

 

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