Schools Looking Into Special School Bus Cameras - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Schools Looking Into Special School Bus Cameras

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BOZEMAN -

Getting students to and from school safely is a top priority for school bus drivers across the country. Unfortunately, many drivers aren't making that job easy.

Bus drivers in Bozeman and Belgrade told ABC FOX Montana several times vehicles aren't stopping while they are picking up and dropping off students, which is required by law.

Because people aren't stopping, First Student and Belgrade Public Schools do what they can to make sure students are safe getting to and from school.

"We come to a complete stop and we have to check vehicles, whether or not they're stopping," said Stacy Roberts, First Student's Bozeman manager. "If we can, we would expect the drivers to try and get a license [plate number], but normally it happens too fast."

Three cars passed a bus picking Belgrade Middle School students on Jackrabbit Lane January 17.  Even with the third car slowing down before passing the stop arm, the whole stop took just 20 seconds.

Some schools in Montana, including Gallatin Gateway and First Student's Helena location, are putting a camera on the outside of their bus designed to catch people running the stop arm.  It's something Belgrade Public Schools transportation director Robert Evans said he's hoping to get on Belgrade's new buses.

"Probably this next coming year I will be looking at recommending those cameras become part of the bid process," said Evans.

He said he plans to buy those cameras for buses the school already owns.

"I would like to look at some aftermarket cameras so we can have maybe a half of a dozen of our 35 routes with these specialized cameras," Evans said.

Until he can get those cameras for the buses, they have to do things the old fashioned way and call the police when they have problem areas like Jackrabbit Lane.

"If we have a stop where motorists are going through red lights often, we will contact law enforcement and ask that they have a patrol car be available out there just to help make a difference," Evans said.

Roberts said there are no plans for First Student to buy the stop arm cameras for their Bozeman buses, so they have to handle things differently.

"There are other First Student locations that actually do have that, it is an expensive thing for the district to purchase, so what we will try and do if we find it is too hazardous, we will try and change the stop," said Roberts.

Roberts and Evans said they also try to design the bus routes so students don't have to cross the street, so kids don't have to worry about people not stopping, but that isn't always possible.

Montana Highway Patrol has already stepped up patrols along Jackrabbit Lane because of this story.

They said they issued two citations from those increased patrols, already doubling how many citations the Bozeman district issued last year.

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