DATE: April 9, 2019
CONTACT: Helen Dunn, Legislative and Public Affairs Officer
Governor Northam Signs Bill Facilitating the Use of Stop-Arm Cameras on Albemarle County School Buses
(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Governor Ralph Northam recently signed a bill introduced by Delegate Rob Bell (House District 58) that changes Virginia state code, giving all school divisions the opportunity to use school bus stop-arm cameras. A 2012 study by the Department of Transportation projected that there are as many as 6,000 occurrences of drivers passing stopped school buses annually, creating potential for danger to students every day. Stop-arm cameras can improve safety for students by decreasing the number of such violations. In programs in other parts of the country, they have been shown to reduce the recidivism rate to only one percent. For six years, Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) has been advocating for a change in Virginia code that would allow the implementation of a school bus stop-arm camera program in the school division, but Virginia code prohibited the division from moving forward.
Starting in August of 2018, Delegate Bell began working with the school division to understand the importance of these stop-arm camera programs. He met with ACPS school bus drivers and transportation experts before they started their service for the school year and discussed with them how the stop-arm cameras would make school buses safer for students. Bell introduced HB 2344 in January in a response to a safety need that he understood through those conversations.
A legislator and a parent, Bell also had a personal stake in school bus safety. When asked about the bill’s signing, he responded, “This bill is a credit to Karen Chisholm and the other Albemarle bus drivers. They saw the problem, brought it to me and the General Assembly, and helped get it fixed. My kids ride those buses every day—I’m so happy that the law passed and will go into effect on July 1.”
At noon on Tuesday, April 9, at the ACPS Transportation Department, Bell will meet with several members of the ACPS community, including several of the bus drivers who persuaded him to write HB 2344, to celebrate the bill’s signing. ACPS Director of Transportation Jim Foley commented, “We are so grateful to Delegate Bell for his efforts to improve student safety. His leadership will help change motorist behavior and create an even safer ride for our students.”
In order for the school division to implement the stop-arm camera program, county code will need to be updated to reflect the new wording of the Virginia Code. The county hopes to address that change later this year.