FCCPS Rolls Out Stop Arm Cameras

FCCPS Rolls Out Stop Arm Cameras FCCPS Photo/John Wesley Brett

It started with a simple email from a concerned parent to the Falls Church School Board, City Council and Police Department in February of 2012; would it be possible to bring stop arm cameras to school buses in Falls Church to monitor motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses on some of Falls Church City roads?

Beginning next week, just in time for National School Bus Safety Week, Falls Church becomes the first school system in Virginia to roll out a School Bus Safety Program including stop arm cameras.

“Our main goal is to keep our students safe,” said Dr. Toni Jones, Superintendent of Falls Church City Public Schools. “These cameras are the safety solution we need to reduce the number of these types of violations to protect our students.”

See How It Works Falls Church City Public Schools and the Falls Church Police Department is partnering with American Traffic Solutions, a leading photo enforcement provider in North America, to deploy CrossingGuard®, ATS’ newest solution to help school districts address the growing problem of illegal passing of school buses. 

The program is administered and maintained by ATS with no upfront cost to the district. Once implemented, the program will be 100 percent stop arm violator funded. In Virginia, a violation is considered a civil penalty that will warrant the vehicle’s owner a $250 fine.

Approximately 12 buses transport 2,000 students to and from school each week.  Half of the fleet will be outfitted with the stop arm cameras.  "Our goal is to educate drivers and stop the illegal passing of school buses," said Mary Gavin, Chief of Police for the City of Falls Church. "Our number one priority is to protect our citizens. We are proud to have this additional tool to help keep our children safe."

As the current red light enforcement provider for the City of Falls Church, ATS was selected by a committee representing FCCPS, City Government and the FCPD based on their outstanding references from school districts and municipalities of all sizes. ATS has successfully piloted stop arm enforcement programs in Maryland, Georgia, Florida, and Texas.


School Bus Safety Program FAQs

Q. Why has Falls Church City Public Schools implemented a School Bus Safety Arm Safety Camera Program?
A. Today, parents have enough reasons to worry about their children’s safety—sending them to school should not be one of them. It is illegal and incredibly dangerous for a vehicle to pass a stopped school bus.

More than 400 children nationwide have been killed by drivers passing a topped school bus over the past four decades according to the Institute for Transportation Research and Education at NC State University. A Florida Department of Education survey conducted in April 2012, found more than 21,000 drivers illegally passed school buses in one day. During a 4-week period in 2013, 14 school buses participated in a school bus stop arm pilot program in Brevard Public, Broward, Charlotte, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Seminole, and Volusia County School Districts recorded 372 potential violations. This equates to an average of 74.4 potential violations per school week, 9.3 potential violations per school district per school week, and 5.3 potential violations per bus per school week.

The goal of the program is to improve the safety and transportation of students riding school buses. We are committed to reducing violations, collisions and injuries to keep our community safe.

Q. What is a school bus violation?
A. A school bus violation occurs when a motorist passes a school bus after the school bus has come to a complete stop with its stop arm extended and lights flashing.

Q. How does the School Bus Arm Safety Camera work?

  • Step 1: High-resolution cameras are installed at key locations on the exterior of the school bus.
  • Step 2: When a school bus extends its stop arm, the system can automatically detect if a vehicle passes the stopped school bus within the enforced zone.
  • Step 3: If a vehicle passes the school bus, the cameras capture images and video showing the violating vehicle.
  • Step 4: The violation images include not only the violating vehicle as it passes the school bus, but also the vehicle’s license plate and the school bus’ extended stop arm. The system also records a video of the violating vehicle as further evidence of the violation.
  • Step 5: Violation data and images are then wirelessly uploaded to ATS’ Axsis™ Violation Processing System for validation, processing and notice issuance.
  • Step 6: A final review of the violation image and video is conducted by law enforcement personnel, who then will approve or reject the violation.

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