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If you have not ridden in a school bus in the past 10 years you may not be aware of the fact that there are cameras on board! Just a few years ago, there was a standard for at least two cameras installed on the bus (one installed at the furthest point in front, another one at the back).

However, this type of camera system did not capture all the details of what is happening inside the school bus. Now, with a specifically designed system of eight cameras (that are evenly spread throughout the interior of the bus), you will get a more complete picture of everything that is happening on board.

No more guessing who to blame, who is right, and who is wrong… That’s why they say:

Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times

Cameras on buses (or any kind of vehicle) will also discourage unsafe driving and hold drivers accountable for any possible misbehavior, like texting while driving, etc. Live view and communication with a driver are also possible through the camera’s inbuilt two-way taking system.

Live camera footage can be sent directly to the school administration to take appropriate action, if necessary. Vandalism and theft of personal belongings can also be an issue if the is no evidence of it.

School bus camera equipment 

Basic surveillance camera systems for buses usually come with 8 or fewer cameras, a digital video recorder (DVR), GPS (or routing software), and recording software (with time stamps and detailed bus signals) for reviewing your footage. These systems have special features:

  • GPS tracking. GPS system on the school bus solves a lot of problems with finding better routes and dropping kids off at the right location.
  • GPS routing. Automated routing systems will allow you to set it up in a way that fits your specific needs in terms of scheduling, routing, pickups, drop-offs. If you have multiple schools to service, this could solve a lot of problems with organizing your routes. It also provides you with all kinds of reports on mileage, time, number of riders, etc.
  • G-Sensor.  Also known as “G-force” or “Accelerometer”, is a feature of a dashcam that measures sudden changes in direction, hard turns, collision possibilities, and keeps separate records (that will not be erased) for later investigations.
  • DVR (footage). Average footage from the camera is usually kept from 7 to 90 days, depending on the size of the hard drive used. Once the drive fills up, the cameras start recording on top of the old footage.
  • DVR (signals recording). This system can actually record all lights, driver braking, and when the stop-arm was pulled out! All of this could be laid over the video footage in order to get a complete picture of the events that actually took place.
  • DVR (panic alarm). Hitting the panic alarm button gives the driver an opportunity to mark the time when the incident took place for later review and explanation.

Stop-Arm cameras laws for school buses

New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee states that:

An estimated 50,000 motor vehicles illegally pass New York State school buses every day.

Everyone knows that it’s illegal to pass a stopped school, but a lot of people are doing it anyway! Why? Because they can get away with it… or could get away with it, but no more.

When the bus stops and the arm is out (a signal that children are boarding or leaving the school bus), all drivers must hit the brakes and wait. The cameras that are being installed on stop signs (also called “stop arms”) would record any violation in regards to illegal passing and authorities will be notified.

The idea behind this camera mount is to discourage such behavior. National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) tells us that at least 21 states already have school bus stop-arm camera laws and here is a list (click here to go to their page). All we are concerned about is that our children are safe near our vehicles and the best way to do this is by punishing those that don’t consider this to be very important.

The camera system on the school bus

1. Concerns about camera footageSome people are wondering if cameras record all the time and what is happening with recorded camera footage. As the school bus starts, so should start the camera systems until the engine had been shut and cameras could be turned on manually (similar to a/c).

You can set this system up in any way you like, it’s programmable. And about camera footage, it’s another story.Many people are concerned about who is going to see their children and where it will go after it was recorded. Usually, school bus footage can only be seen only by school administrators and even drivers don’t have access to it.It is only used in case of a complaint of an incident that requires measures. Also, police can request to see the footage at any time.

2. Why do accidents happenThe school bus driver’s job is very tough. Not only he or she has to watch the road, but they don’t just have a few adult passengers on the back, there is a whole “army” of small school kids, practically unsupervised, doing whatever in the world they want!

The driver cannot protect or discipline children while driving. Different kinds of incidents are quite common in school buses and if a driver starts paying attention to what is happening inside, he/she will lose control over what is happening on the outside, and this is how accidents happen.

This is where a good surveillance camera will come in handy. By itself, it will NOT prevent an accident, but its recording will become a piece of evidence that you can provide to authorities in case something happened.

A well-placed camera or camera system will also record any interaction between a school bus driver and children. As the most responsible person aboard, the driver will probably tell a story completely different from what children will.

The camera will not only protect the school bus driver in case of an incident that parents may decide to act upon, but it will protect you as an owner from false or inaccurate claims.

3. Good evidence in case of a complaint 

As we transition to the 21st century, the number of cameras around the world has skyrocketed. The reason for this is that it is extremely hard to find a “guilty party” if everyone tells a different story and no one (usually) considers an incident to be their own fault.

Not too long ago mass movement of “fakers” has arisen to take advantage of your business or insurance claims and only recently it became much easier to investigate these cases properly. You really never know who is going to try to sue you and for what.

Endless court cases that are taking place every day, clearly show that there is no limit to human creativity… Any accusation against the driver or your company can be resolved in a fast manner with recorded footage from a scene without being taken to the court.Of course, in case it actually gets there, your investment in cameras will be easily justified by the lawsuits that you will get to win or avoid.

4. Safety and security

Think of it this way, if you don’t have footage of an incident on your hands, what are you going to do? These people were trying to take advantage of our “blindness”, but not anymore, because…

Cameras have filled the world! They are everywhere! And for a good reason.

Cameras will “tell” you a story that no one else will. Does it feel weird to be under surveillance? Yes, but there is also a benefit of knowledge if the truth is on your side.We are all under some kind of surveillance at all times, even Google maps can take a picture of you from the satellite. While walking down the sidewalk, some kind of camera eye is always watching us.

We go to the grocery store, and what do we see? Sign “You are under surveillance”. But what about the most important and precious to us?

The safety and security of students on the school buses should never be underestimated or overlooked because our children’s lives are at stake here. Bus drivers also need proper protection and better tools in terms of getting a visual of what is happening around them in order to have fewer distractions and drive safely.

5. YOU need to know what happened!

At last, you, need to know what in a world just happened! There is an infinite number of possibilities of what can happen on the road. If you have to deal with a safe working environment, you will have to take preventive measures before things get out of hand.Whether your driver is not very experienced, or administrators that don’t really care, it’s up to you to notice a problem and try to fix it. In the end, what can be more important than preventing injuries and saving lives?

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