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St Paul (KROC AM News) - Several school districts and bus operators in southeast Minnesota are benefitting from a program aimed at protecting students from careless drivers.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety is awarding more than $3.5 million in grants to 32 schools and school bus companies around the state to install stop-arm camera systems.

The department says “A child should never have to fear boarding a school bus or getting dropped off, but across Minnesota, motorists failing to stop for school buses are risking children’s lives.”

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The initial grant awards are Phase 1 of a larger grant project. The Minnesota legislature approved funding for this year and 2023, totaling $14.7 million. The funding will be used for purchasing and installing stop-arm camera systems and supporting software programs. The Phase 2 grant application process is now open and runs through March 15.

Law enforcement agencies work with schools and transportation companies across Minnesota to cite drivers failing to stop for school buses with flashing lights and stop arms extended. In the past five years, law enforcement cited more than 4,600 drivers for stop-arm violations.

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“For a parent, the thought of losing a child to a vehicle blowing past an extended school bus stop arm is unthinkable,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Yet we see too many drivers who are distracted or place their priorities over the safety of our youngest Minnesotans. The camera grant project is a significant effort to keep kids safe, hold selfish or inattentive drivers accountable, and change dangerous driving choices.”

Here are the grants that were awarded in southeast Minnesota in the first round of funding:

  • Fillmore Central Schools Fillmore $30,486.
  • Grisim School Bus, Inc. Stewartville $29,325
  • Held Bus Service Goodhue, Rice, Dodge, Steele $35,424
  • Kasson Mantorville School Dodge, Mower, Olmsted $9,784
  • Triton ISD 2125 Dodge, Goodhue, Steele $9,654.
  • Faribault Transportation Services, Inc. Rice $77,392
  • Held Bus Service Goodhue, Rice, Dodge, Steele $35,424

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