KENANSVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Duplin County Schools is partnering with the State Department of Public Instruction.
It’s all in an effort to try out new equipment to improve school bus safety.
Duplin County Schools hopes by adding an extra stop sign on the extended stop arm of its buses, drivers won’t pass your child’s bus quite so easily. The extra stop sign is an experiment with the Department of Public Instruction.
The county is the first in the east to utilize it.
The stop sign arm is extended by an extra five feet, in order to keep drivers from passing stopped school buses.
In addition to the stop sign, the county also upgraded its camera systems to catch any illegal passers.
“With the camera systems on the bus, we can see traffic coming towards and passing the buses at school bus stops,” explained Jason Ginn, Director of Technology Services, Duplin County Schools. “We upgraded the systems this year to all new camera systems. We can see live video on the buses while the students are on the bus so we can monitor those activities.”
The cameras are located on the front and back of each stop sign allowing officials to see the face of the driver and the car’s license plate.
The ultimate goal is to reduce the nearly 3,100 drivers each year in North Carolina who illegally pass a stopped school bus.
The county is also the first school system in the east to try a new safety mechanism on its school buses.
While it may look like the inside of an average school bus, it’s actually just a few of its kind. The bus is equipped with state of the art technology to track the student’s ride to and from school.
This year, Duplin County installed tracking devices that use cellular data on all of its school buses. The devices track the buses’ locations, speeds, and the number of stops.
The data is used to determine if a bus gets off route or breaks down; anything that could be a concern for children’s safety.
Before the technology, the county used two-way radios to monitor buses.
“We’ve had parents wanting to know has the bus come by their house yet and they give us their address and we say, hold on one second, and we just key in that bus number and we know exactly where it is and we can tell them approximately the time the bus will be there,” explained Jeff Thigpen, Chief Operation Officer for Transportation and Facilities, Duplin County Schools. “It’s already helping out the parents and the principals.”
The tracking devices are already saving the county money. They cost about $20,000 to operate per year; $5,000 cheaper than using radios.
The devices are hidden on the buses to keep students from tampering with them.