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School districts, bus companies to split $1.4M in stop arm camera grants

School districts and bus companies across the state will use the money to install camera systems on more than 550 buses, to help keep students safe.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) says 19 school districts and companies across the state will split nearly $1.4 million in grants to install stop arm camera systems on school buses. 

DPS says the money will help install the cameras and support software on more than 550 buses, and fund awareness programs that encourage drivers to obey the law and stop for buses with lights flashing and stop arms extended. It is the fourth round of grants distributed by the program so far. 

“Drivers need to pay attention and not let impatience get the best of them near a school bus picking up or dropping off kids,” said Office of Traffic Safety Director Mike Hanson. “Driving distracted or thinking you can quickly drive around a bus could kill or seriously injure a child. What a horrific, easily preventable consequence. Drive smart and help keep our youngest Minnesotans safe.”

At the state capitol Wednesday Republicans and DFL senators took on a bipartisan effort to make school buses safer. The senate transportation committee heard about a bill that would grant more than $10 million to equip school buses with cameras to catch people who drive around buses. 

"It's a slam dunk situation," said Scott McMahon of the Minnesota school Bus Operators Association. "One hundred percent of the time that they've had video, the driver has admitted they drove around that bus and taken that citation and we've got the process to move forward." The committee moved to lay the bill over for future budget consideration.

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. Those who don't face the prospect of a $500 fine.

Districts and transportation companies receiving grants are: 

  • Aitkin Public Schools
  • Albert Lea Bus Company
  • Anderson Bus of Frazee, Inc.
  • Barnum Public Schools
  • Breck School
  • Cook County Schools ISD 166
  • Duluth ISD 709
  • Fornshell Bus Service
  • 4.0 School Services
  • Lyle Public School
  • Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • North Star Bus Lines
  • Palmer Bus Financial Management
  • Stephen-Argyle Central
  • Trobec's Bus Service
  • Underwood School District
  • Vision Transportation of Elk River
  • Waterville-Elysian-Morristown School District
  • Yaeger Bus Service Inc.

Despite all the publicity surrounding motorists who drive around deployed stop arms, people continue to do it... putting children across the state at risk. DPS says between 2017 and 2021, 4,652 Minnesota drivers were cited for stop arm violations.

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