Albert Lea Bus Co. awarded funds for school bus stop arm cameras

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2023

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety on Wednesday announced nearly $1.4 million in grants to help keep students safe as they get on and off school buses.

The program is a partnership with law enforcement agencies including the Minnesota State Patrol, police departments and sheriff’s offices statewide. Phase four grants, the latest iteration of the stop arm camera grant project, go to 19 schools and transportation companies, including Albert Lea Bus Co., according to a press release.

The value of the grant in Albert Lea is almost $141,000 and will go to support 47 camera systems.

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Grant applicants provided support letters from local law enforcement agencies, an outreach plan and demonstrated need by sharing violation numbers from the last two years.

In addition to enforcement, the project funds education and awareness efforts to encourage drivers to obey the law and stop for buses with flashing lights and stop arms extended. The cameras provided through the project will help schools and law enforcement find the violators and hold them accountable.

“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.”

Earlier grant recipients recognize how valuable the project is to protecting Minnesota students.

“As a school bus driver, so many times I’ve felt that sudden fear and frustration because a motorist just disregards a stop arm and drives right past the bus,” said Michael Lane, shop foreman and bus driver, Cloquet Transit, LCS Coaches. “We’re talking about a child’s life. The safety of the students is always on my mind on my route. Thanks to the grant project, we’ve installed new stop arm cameras on our buses. We’re able to much more easily identify violators and work with law enforcement on driver accountability and education.”