Four years into Falls Church City Public School's Stop-Arm Camera program and it continues catching violators, and the fines continue to roll in.
In 2019, a total of 1,082 citations were issued to drivers who passed a Falls Church school bus with its red lights flashing. For the first five months of the current fiscal year (July through November), the program has grossed more than $73,000. Generally, the school division keeps approximately half of the fines, with the remaining used to pay for the program.
2019 Stop-Arm Camera Program Highlights:
source: Verra Mobility
- 1,082 citations
- Additional cameras installed over the summer - all FCCPS buses have the Stop-Arm cameras.
- Violations were the highest in September, which school reopens, and generally fall as the school year progresses.
- Non-Falls Church residents received the most citations - commuters passing through.
- Repeat violators make up only 2% of the citations.
Here's how the Stop Arm Camera Program works:
Four cameras, two facing forward and two facing to the rear, are located in a yellow box on the stop sign side of each school bus.
When the bus approaches a bus stop, the driver activates yellow warning lights. Once the bus comes to a complete stop, the red lights are activated as the door is opened, and the stop arm and crossing gate are extended. If a vehicle passes the bus from the front or rear, the cameras capture the violator on video.
Each evening the videos are uploaded automatically to the camera vendor, Verra Mobility (formerly American Traffic Solutions), which reviews the violations and tosses out any false-positives. Those thought to be actual violations head to the Falls Church Police Department for a second review. If the offense is validated, the police mail a citation along with a photo of the vehicle passing the stop school bus with the stop arm extended.
The fine is $250 per violation. Those receiving the citation can pay the fine or request a court date before a judge to have their case reviewed.