EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — For the 2021-2022 school year, Widefield School District 3 has installed all new cameras on their school buses to keep their students safer.
The school district has 74 buses and the Pro-Vision Cameras will take photos and video of drivers who blow past the stop arms on the school bus. It will record the driver’s front and side views as well as their license plates.
Fortunately, Widefield School District 3 hasn’t had an accident due to drivers not paying attention but they hope this new technology will hopefully encourage drivers to follow the stop sign law. The new school year will begin on Monday.
“The cameras are our best friend, anybody who says differently doesn’t understand what the cameras do for us,” Bus Driver Samuel Wetzel said. “They see what we don’t see, they back up what I tell my supervisor.”
The buses will be equipped with dash cams, stop-arm cameras, and five cameras inside the bus to see what students are doing in every single seat.
“So my understanding from local law enforcement, it will be used to prosecute people for violating stop arms,” Widefield School District 3 Transportation Operations Manager Eric Lance said.
Last year, the district tracked the number of violations the drivers recorded and they say there was an average of six a week. The school district was very concerned about students and their family members getting injured from people not adhering to the stop signs.
“When you are looking at that volume of violations it’s only amount of time before someone gets hurt and we want to prevent that from happening,” Lance added.
How it works is that as soon as the driver turns on the bus, the cameras will start recording. When the bus turns off it downloads the videos to the district’s system. Then the school district will send the footage straight to law enforcement. When a stop sign violation occurs the operation managers are immediately notified.
“People will just zoom through those stop arms and I’m not always able to catch or get an identification of the vehicle,” Wetzel explained.
The new cameras will help the driver pay more attention to the road and their students.
“Actually dealing with the students and the safety end of it, it makes it that much easier,” Wetzel said as he was referring to the cameras.
The cameras will give the school district a way to investigate allegations. The cameras will also be used as a teaching tool for bus drivers to improve their driving. The operation managers plan to have meetings with the drivers once a month to review the footage and tell the driver what they could improve on and what they are doing well.
“There is also a map tracking system where the parents can tell where the buses are at, and they know to be at stops so nobody is standing outside in the cold and rain. I am all for the technology that they have put in,” Wetzel added.
On Friday, bus drivers were making last-minute checks on their buses before the school year begins.
“I always like to meet my new students, this is really a great job,” Wetzel said. “The kids are the best end of it all. Let’s get it going! Let’s start the school year, I’m anxious.”
The new cameras were paid for from money saved in the transportation budget last year with the shutdown using less gas and an onsite new fuel station.
Widefield School District 3 is searching for more bus drivers. If you are interested click here to apply!