FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne Community Schools is implementing new technology to keep children safe at bus stops. The district announced Friday that they will start the school year with 29 school buses equipped with stop-arm cameras.
There are 254 school buses in the fleet at FWCS according to the Director of Transportation. Until recently, none of the buses had cameras.
Hundreds of stop arm violations happen each year in Allen County. FWCS officials said they hope to change that.
“We will progressively add stop arm cameras with each new purchase,” said Frank Jackson, Director of Transportation.
Drivers were tasked with trying to track stop arm violations by gathering details such as, the driver description and license plate number. The cameras are positioned to pick up the vehicle driver, license plate and a portion of the stop arm to show that it is deployed.
Videos would be shared with law enforcement so they can work with police and prosecutors to determine if charges will be filed.
“We’re talking about the lives of kids that is at stake here so I would encourage the community to not just be concerned with the fact that there’s a stop arm camera on the bus, but do the right thing,” he said. “What is safe for kids?”
Jackson said a 2018 school bus crash in Rochester, that killed three kids and injured another, re-ignited the conversation about bus safety and highlighted the need for cameras.
“FWCS looked at what other tools do we need to continue to make kids safe when they’re boarding the school bus or exiting the school bus,” he said.
The buses will be used on routes that are considered “hot spots” for stop arm violations, Jackson said.
“We will have the opportunity to move those buses around as we need to and so that’s our goal,” he said. “We certainly will push and make every effort to have you prosecuted.”
The Fort Wayne Police Department will also work to patrol high risk areas. They are able to do that through the the Stop Arm Violation Enforcement Program, also known as SAVE, which is funded through grants.
The district purchased the buses at no additional cost – instead they reallocated funding that was already in the budget. All total they spent about 3.2 million for the new buses, Jackson said.
The announcement comes after Gov. Holcomb announced that more than 200 law enforcement agencies will conduct extra patrols to safeguard students as they get on and off the bus this school year. This is in an effort to limit the number of stop-arm violations and motorists driving dangerously.