Essex County

Peabody pilot program tracks drivers illegally passing buses

PEABODY, Mass. — A new pilot program in Peabody is tracking how many cars illegally pass school buses.

The school district is partnering with BusPatrol, which installs bus cameras that automatically detect and record vehicles passing when a bus’s stop sign is out.

BusPatrol put cameras on ten of the district’s 36 school buses, announcing Thursday that 864 cars illegally passed buses picking up and dropping off students from September 1 to October 10.

“The cars are just going through or they’re not stopping or they’re stopping halfway through, which is obviously too late,” said Bus Driver Lisa Connors, the director of transportation for Peabody Public Schools.

“If the bus is in your way, take a different route to work,” she recommended. “Because you’d rather be ten minutes late than be pulled over, talking to a police officer, because you just did something tragic or hit a child.”

Maria Scheri, a Peabody mother, has been fighting for bus safety since she first put her son on the bus last fall and saw cars speeding by her bus stop. “That was a little unnerving, and then I just started seeing it again and again and again,” she said.

Scheri founded S.T.O.P. The Operator from Passing, which grabbed the attention of BusPatrol and led to the partnership with the school district. She hopes the findings from this pilot program can help pass bus safety laws in Massachusetts, allowing for police to use technology like this to issue fines to hold more drivers accountable.

“My son doesn’t have to cross the street. I’m doing this for the kids I don’t even know. I’m doing it for the kids across 351 communities across Massachusetts that do have to cross the street,” Scheri said.

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