Newport News Public Schools, the Newport News Police Department and the City of Newport News have launched a school bus safety program in partnership with BusPatrol.
As part of the BusPatrol safety program, all 340 NNPS buses have been outfitted with stop-arm cameras that provide a comprehensive view of vehicles around the school bus. The stop-arm cameras are positioned to capture images of drivers and their vehicles if they pass a school bus when the stop sign and red lights are activated. The video image is reviewed by a Newport News police officer and a ticket may be issued to the registered owner of the vehicle. Information related to the incident including video footage is also presented to the vehicle owner in an effort to ensure that the behavior is not repeated.
Starting Monday, March 15, the automated enforcement technology will be active on all NNPS buses.
According to data from the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation (NASDPTS), drivers illegally pass stopped school buses more than 17 million times a year in the U.S. The BusPatrol safety program in Newport News is set to reduce the number of illegal passings in the city to ensure children can get to and from school safely.
An announcement about the partnership can be viewed here.
“Newport News Public Schools is proud to partner with BusPatrol to help protect over 24,000 students who ride our school buses every day. This partnership will encourage all drivers to be more cautious around school buses,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. George Parker. “Student safety is our first priority.”
“We are pleased to be able to work with Newport News Public Schools to help keep children safe as they travel to and from school. No parent should have to worry about his or her child’s safety. With the technology that BusPatrol is bringing to our city, our hope is to eliminate stop-arm violations altogether. Your child’s safety is our priority,” said Chief Steve Drew.
"We each play an important part in making sure our young people get to and from school safely," said Mayor McKinley Price. "I’ve heard from parents, siblings, family members and concerned citizens about drivers not stopping for our school buses. This initiative from BusPatrol will help us hold drivers accountable and protect our city’s most valuable resource, our children."
Jean Souliere, CEO at BusPatrol, said: “Newport News Public Schools has taken a proactive step to prioritize student safety while buses have been off roads. This means that when students board the bus to school, they will be protected by some of the most advanced safety technology out there.”
Souliere added: “The pandemic has forced many schools to rethink their approach to health and safety. Our zero-cost solution means that schools can upgrade their fleets and put safety first, without having to spend thousands of dollars on new tech.”
Passing a stopped school bus with its flashing lights activated and stop-arm extended is illegal in Virginia. Drivers must stop for a school bus approaching in any direction so that children can get on and off safely. Failing to do so will result in a minimum penalty of $250 for a first violation when captured by the BusPatrol program.
Newport News Public Schools’ bus fleet has been modernized with the safety technology at zero cost to the school district, the city and local taxpayers. The school bus safety program is entirely violator funded.