New cameras installed in Stewartville buses for safety

(ABC 6 News) – Stewartville’s Grisim School Bus company has installed new cameras to their stop arms in order to hold drivers accountable for not stopping for school buses.

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The funding for the cameras comes from of a grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, that announced in July it was giving over $3.7 million to various school districts.= for student safety.

MN DPS says over the last five years, law enforcement has cited more than 4,500 drivers for not stopping for school buses.

“People are more worried about getting to work than slowing down and paying attention,” said Andrew Langseth, a Stewartville father. “Sometimes with people’s schedules, they think getting to work a little bit earlier is more important, but the safety of children is always more important than getting to work or being late.”

Langseth has six kids in the Stewartville district who all ride the bus to school and says he’s witnessed some close calls.

“‘I was stopped and waiting for the kids to cross and someone drove right through the stop arm the stop sign. I remember thinking ‘I hope they catch him, what a dangerous thing to do’ and being afraid for those kids who are trying to cross and get on the bus,” Langseth explained.

It has been hard on the bus drivers too. But the hope is that these new cameras will help.

“This is really going to let the driver free up his eyes a little bit to watch where the kids are when the violator comes by, instead of having to focus on that license plate. This will take care of that for him, he can just concentrate on who’s driving that vehicle and making sure the kids are safe,” explained Bryan Runkel, the general manager of Grisim Bus Company.

Runkel says careless driving incidents are getting worse. In fact, there were 20 reported stop arm violations just last year in Stewartville alone. However, there were twice as many that bus drivers could not get enough information to make a report.

“You are required by law to stop for school bus. So, when the light is flashing make sure that you are starting to reduce your speed and pay attention and once the arm is extended, then you are required to stop a minimum of 20 feet in front and behind the school bus,” said State Patrolmen, Sgt. Troy Christianson.

Driving through a bus stop arm can come with a $500 fine, but if children are around, it becomes a gross misdemeanor.

“That’s major danger for the children to be crossing the roadway if cars are going through the stop arm,” explained Sgt. Christianson.

For Andrew Langseth, he says these cameras will make him feel a little bit more comfortable when sending his kids off to school.

“Parents can have confidence that this will be something that makes their kids journey to school a little bit safer,” said Langseth.

10 of the 17 buses in Grisim’s fleet have the new cameras installed. Runkel says he is hoping to have all of the buses completed by next week.