Minnesota DPS awards $1.4M in latest phase of grants for school bus stop-arm cameras

(ABC 6 News) – The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) announced nearly $1.4 million in the latest phase of grants to help keep students safe as they get on and off school buses.

Phase four grants, the latest iteration of the stop-arm camera grant project, will go to 19 schools and transportation companies, to help equip 551 buses with stop-arm cameras.

Locally, the Albert Lea Bus Company will be awarded $140,939 to equip 47 buses with stop-arm cameras, and Lyle Public School in Mower County will be awarded $17,935 to equip 6 buses with stop-arm cameras.

The project is a partnership with law enforcement agencies, including the Minnesota State Patrol, police departments and sheriff’s offices statewide.

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 OTS 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.”

Stewartville’s Grisim School Bus company benefitted from an earlier phase of funding in 2022 and installed new cameras to their school bus stop-arms.

RELATED: New cameras installed in Stewartville buses for safety

Minnesota state legislators approved $14.7 million in total funding for this project for 2022 and 2023. More than $10 million in grant awards were announced in phases one through three in 2022. A future OTS announcement will highlight phase five grantees. The phase six grant application review is underway.

The grants will reimburse schools and transportation companies for purchasing and installing stop-arm camera systems and supporting software programs.

According to the OTS, from 2017-2021, law enforcement cited 4,652 drivers for stop-arm violations.

State law requires all vehicles to stop for school buses when the bus driver activates the flashing lights and has the stop-arm fully extended. Drivers who violate the law face a $500 fine.

Motorists must stop at least 20 feet from a school bus that is displaying red flashing lights or a stop-arm when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads.

For more on school bus stop-arm safety, CLICK HERE.