Plainville to crack down on drivers passing school buses

Beginning this fall, Plainville school buses will feature an enhanced safety measure, according to superintendent of schools Steven LePage. The DATTCO busses servicing Plainville schools will now feature the Student Guardian automated stop arm enforcement system.

“Ensuring student safety is always the highest priority of Plainville Community Schools,” said LePage. “We hope that the use of state-of-the-art camera technology as a way to decrease unsafe and illegal choices by impatient drivers, will help to keep our students more safe on their way to school.”

Student Guardian is a camera system installed on the exterior driver’s side of a school bus. The camera system monitors and detects drivers who illegally pass school buses when the stop arm is deployed and amber lights are displayed, endangering students as they enter and exit the buses.

The cameras are triggered to capture data as a vehicle passes the bus while children are entering and exiting. The data is then reviewed and processed into an evidence file, and local law enforcement members determine whether a violation is warranted.

There is no cost to the school district for the Student Guardian program, which is funded by the fines from violations.

According to Connecticut General Statute 14-279, the operator of any vehicle or motor vehicle is required to stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of a school bus when the bus is displaying flashing red lights, except when directed otherwise by a traffic officer. Vehicles shall not proceed until such school bus no longer displays flashing red signal lights.

In Connecticut, if a law enforcement official cites a driver for illegally passing a school bus, the fine is up to $1,000 with the possibility of 30 days imprisonment.

Drivers cited through the Student Guardian program will face a minimum fine of $450 for the first offense with subsequent offenses increasing from $500 t0 $1,000 with the possibility of up to 30 days in jail.

The Department of Motor Vehicles also assesses four points against a motorist’s driver’s license each time he or she is convicted of illegally passing a school bus.