OTS grant program keeps kids safe as they get on and off the bus

Feb. 5, 2024

School bus stop arm

​The anticipation of waiting to hop on the bus to see friends and go to school should be fun, not scary. Kids (and their parents) shouldn't have to worry about a driver ignoring the school bus stop arm and hitting them.

Over the past two years, our Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) has been partnering with busing companies, school districts and law enforcement agencies to make sure Minnesota's students stay safe. OTS previously announced nearly $14.2 million in state-funded grant awards in phases 1 through 6 during 2022 and 2023.

That funding equipped 6,998 school buses statewide with camera systems, representing about 59 percent of the eligible school bus fleet. Even more school bus drivers across the state will have help keeping kids safe as Phase 7 of our stop arm grant program goes into effect.

“As drivers, we need to stay patient, pay attention and not allow our hurried lives to jeopardize a child's life," said OTS Director Mike Hanson. “The near-misses and violations are so frightening and aggravating. The stop arm cameras are a welcome relief for bus drivers, parents, students and law enforcement in educating motorists, holding violators accountable and changing dangerous driving behaviors." 

Here is a list of Phase​ 7 grantees. Previous grantees are seeing positive results in their communities.

 “We are grateful for receiving additional grant funds because we have already seen the value of current stop arm cameras on half of our bus fleet," said Anne Marie Leland, director, community education and strategic partnerships, Edina Public Schools. “The anxiety, frustration and stress over stop arm violations are very real for Edina parents and bus drivers. Equipping the remainder of our buses with cameras only improves our ability to work with residents and law enforcement to keep kids safe."

The law and what you can do

Drivers need to stop at least 20 feet away from a school bus displaying red flashing lights and an extended stop arm when approaching from the rear and from the opposite direction on undivided roads. They also need to be on the lookout for students crossing the street.

Motorists should:

  • Slow down.
  • Pay attention.
  • Anticipate school children and buses, especially in neighborhoods and school zones.

Students should:

  • Look for cars passing on the shoulder before getting off the bus.
  • Wait for the bus driver to signal that it's safe to cross.
  • When crossing the street to get on the bus or to go home, make eye contact with motorists before proceeding.

Drivers who violate the law face a $500 fine. They may also face criminal charges for passing a school bus on the right, passing when a child is outside the bus, or injuring or killing a child.