KEYSER, W.Va. – The addition of a five-foot stop sign arm installed on one of Mineral County’s school buses is proving to be helping to keep children safer, school officials said.
John Droppleman of the school system’s transportation department told the Board of Education on Tuesday that the extended arm was installed on bus No. 57.
“That was a bus that the driver indicated he had seen cars passing the bus when it was stopped to load and unload students,” Droppleman said, adding that there has been a significant improvement since the extension was installed.
The new arm extends five feet farther from the side the the bus.
“There were an increased number of stop arm violations reported,” he said. “Since the installation of the arm two weeks ago, there has not been a single violation reported.”
Droppleman said about 20 students a year are killed in the U.S. by drivers not yielding to school bus stop arms.
The state Legislature has increased penalties for running a school bus stop sign to $1,000 from $500 for a first offense or confinement in jail for not more than six months, plus a possible 60-day suspension of the person’s drivers’ license.
A second offense carries a $1,000 to $1,500 fine and/or confinement in jail for up to six months and a possible 180-day license suspension. A third offence carries a $2,000 fine, and/or a minimum 48 hours to six months in jail, plus a one-year suspension of their driver’s license.
Droppleman said each bus is equipped with a camera that records the offender’s vehicle and tag number.
“This year front facing cameras will be installed on all new buses to aid in the identification or drivers,” he said. “The penalties for running a school bus stop arm are strict, but the terrible implications of running a stop arm and killing a child are real.”