School Bus Stop-Arm Camera Program FAQs

Stop-Arm Camera PSA

Program Vendor, American Traffic Solutions, 1-866-790-4111

Q. What are automated school bus stop-arm cameras?

A. School districts around the country are using technology to help make students safer. The automated stop-arm cameras are being utilized By Arlington Public Schools to detect drivers who illegally pass school buses when the stop-arm is deployed, and red lights are flashing, endangering the lives of children as they enter and exit their bus.

Q. Why is this type of photo enforcement needed?

A. Stop-arm photo enforcement is a tool that school districts and law enforcement can use to help protect children from motorists who illegally pass a stopped school bus. It allows local law enforcement officers to focus their energies on other high priority tasks. In addition, the cameras serve as a deterrent to motorists that may consider breaking the law and pass a stopped school bus. Any violation is automatically detected allowing the bus driver to focus on the safety of the school children.

Q. How does the School Bus Arm Safety Camera work?

Traffic LawA. See Graphic

  1. High-resolution cameras are installed on the exterior of the school bus.
  2. When a school bus extends its stop arm, the system automatically detects any vehicle passing the stopped school bus within the enforced zone.
  3. If a vehicle passes the school bus, the cameras capture images and video showing the violating vehicle.
  4. The violation images and video include the violating vehicle, vehicle license plate, and the extended stop arm of the bus.
  5. Violation data and images are wirelessly uploaded to the Violation Processing System for validation and processing.
  6. A final review of the violation image and video is conducted by the Arlington County Police Department where the violation will either be rejected or approved.
  7.  If the violation is approved, a citation is issued and mailed to the vehicle owner.

Q. Why has the Arlington Public Schools implemented a School Bus Safety Camera Program?

A. Parents have enough reasons to worry about their children’s safety and we believe traveling to school should not be one of them. More than 400 children nationwide have been killed by drivers passing a stopped school bus over the past four decades according to the Institute for Transportation Research and Education at NC State University. The goal of the program is to improve the safety of students riding APS school buses. We are committed to reducing violations and improving the safety of our students.

Q. Why isn’t regular police enforcement of these violations sufficient?

A. At this time Arlington Public Schools has approximately 150 school buses transporting students in the County. It would not be feasible to have a police officer at every location where students are picked up or dropped off. Student safety is our number one priority and this will assist us greatly in insuring that our school children are safe.

Q. How do the stop-arm cameras work?

A. There are cameras on the exterior driver’s side of the school bus. The cameras automatically monitor traffic when the bus stop-arm is deployed and red lights are displayed. If a vehicle passes the bus during that time cameras are triggered to capture the violation. This data is reviewed and processed by the vendor then forwarded to the Arlington County Police Department. The violation is reviewed and if confirmed a “Notice of Violation” is issued.

Q. How do you decide which bus routes to install stop-arm cameras?

A. School bus route analysis is conducted to assess the frequency of stop-arm passing incidents throughout the county. This is accomplished through driver surveys and vendor analysis.

Q. What kind of data is captured by the safety cameras?

A. The stop–arm cameras capture hi-resolution photos, video, and date, time, & location of the violation.

Q. When will a violations notice start to be issued?

A. On the first day of the school year, September 8, 2015, the owner of any vehicle passing a stopped school bus with the stop arm extended and red lights flash will receive a “Notice of Violation: which carries a $250 fine.

Q. What happens if I receive a ticket?

A. You can visit to find how you can pay the ticket or to view hi-resolution images and video of the violation. You will need the PIN # from your violation to access the information.

Q. What is the fine if I receive a “Notice of Violation”?

A.  The school bus stop-arm citation carries a civil penalty of $250 for each violation. That amount is set by state law in Virginia.

Q. Will this affect my driving record?

A.  This is a civil penalty so no points are assessed and insurance rates are not affected.

Q. What if I wasn’t driving at the time of the violation?

A. Like a parking ticket, violations are issued to the vehicle’s registered owner regardless of who was driving the vehicle at the time the violation took place.

Q. Is the school bus stop-arm citation reviewed before it is issued?

A. The Arlington County Police Department reviews potential violation data forwarded by the APS vendor. The violation data forwarded to them includes violation images and video, a close-up license plate image, and vehicle owner registration information. The reviewing officer will approve or reject the violation based on that information. If the officer confirms the violation of County Code §14.2-23.2 a “Notice of Violation” is issued.

Q. Do the school bus stop-arm cameras take a picture of the driver?

A. The cameras are not aligned to capture an image of the driver. Since this is a civil violation assessed against the owner of the vehicle there is no need to identify the driver with a photo.

Q. Do the Stop-Arm Cameras capture every vehicle which passes the stopped school bus?

A. Yes, the cameras capture every vehicle which passes a stopped school bus when the Stop-Arm is deployed and the red lights are flashing. The activation of the stop-arm cameras is automatic and takes no action by the driver.

Q. What happens if I ignore the ticket?

A. Unpaid tickets are turned over to the Arlington County Treasurer’s Office for collection. The Treasurer’s Office utilizes a wide range of methods to insure collection for the violation. In addition, credit reporting agencies will be notified of the outstanding debt.

Q. How much time do I have to pay my Notice of Violation?

A. You must pay the fine on or before the due date on your Notice of Violation. The due date for payment is located on the top and bottom right of your Notice of Violation. A late fee will be assessed if the penalty is not paid by the due date.

Q. How do I pay a violation?

  • ONLINE: The fastest and easiest way to make your payment is online. Once you are on the website just Notice of Violation number and PIN. You also will be able to retrieve a confirmation number for your payment and print a receipt.
  • BY MAIL: Your payment must be received before the due date on the Notice of Violation. Mail your check or money order in the envelope enclosed with your Notice of Violation with the coupon. DO NOT MAIL CASH – cash payments will not be accepted.
  • IN PERSON: In some instances, you may be able to pay your fine in person. Please review the payment section of your Notice to see if the option to pay in person is available in your municipality.

Q. Do I have to stop for a stopped school bus with the stop arm extended at an intersection?Where to stop

A. Virginia DMV states in the Drivers Handbook that you must stop for stopped school buses with flashing red lights and an extended stop sign when you approach from any direction on a highway, private road or school driveway. Stop and remain stopped until all persons are clear and the bus moves again.

The red vehicles in the picture must stop and remain stopped until all children are clear of the roadway and the bus moves again.

Q. Do I have to stop for a stopped school bus with the stop arm extended when there is a median?Where to stop

A. Virginia DMV states in the Drivers Handbook that you do not have to stop if you are traveling in the opposite direction on a roadway with a median or barrier dividing the road and the bus is on the opposite side of the median or barrier.

The red vehicles in the picture must stop and remain stopped until all children are clear of the roadway and the bus moves again. If there is no raised median or barrier you must stop.

Q. What is the cost of the School Bus Stop-Arm Camera Program to the taxpayers of Arlington?

A. There is no cost to Arlington Public Schools for this program. The program is fully funded by the fines from violations.

Q. Who manages the automated School Bus Stop-Arm Program?

A. The program is managed by Arlington Public Schools. It is assisted by Arlington County agencies such as the Arlington County Police Department and the Arlington County Treasurer’s Office.

 Q. If someone waves me past a stopped school bus with the flashing red lights on can I go past the bus?

      A. Only a law enforcement officer or a uniformed crossing guard has the authority under Virginia law to direct a driver past a stopped school bus with the red lights activated.

Additional Information

 Two-lane 4-lane without median
4 lanes with center turning lane Four Lane with Median