This Mass. city put cameras on some school buses to record illegal passes. The results were alarming

A car passes a stopped school bus in Peabody, as captured by the bus's stop-arm camera. (Screenshot)
A car passes a stopped school bus in Peabody, as captured by the bus's stop-arm camera. (Screenshot)

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here

Do your soul a favor and get outside today. But first, the news:

The cameras on the bus: School buses have stop signs on the side for a reason. And yet, data released yesterday by Peabody Public Schools shows an alarming number of motorists drive past school buses picking up and dropping off kids at stops. Since Labor Day last year, the school district recorded 3,412 times vehicles failed to stop for buses with their stop signs out.

  • How’d they do it: Peabody schools partnered with the safety tech company BusPatrol to install cameras on 10 of the district’s 30 school buses. BusPatrol — which posted a nearly three-minute video compilation of cars blowing through school bus stop signs — says the 3,412 figure breaks down to 2.3 illegal passes per bus per day — “one of the highest rates” it has recorded nationally.
  • What’s next? Maria Scheri, a Peabody parent involved with the pilot program, says the findings suggest illegal passes are happening in “every” city and town. She and others are pushing for a State House bill that would allow police to use video from school bus-mounted cameras to cite drivers who pass school buses during student pick-ups and drop-offs. “No kid should have to get hit by a car because a driver decided that they didn’t want to take 25 seconds to stop for them,” Scheri told WBUR’s Lynn Jolicoeur. (The bill got a favorable House committee report in March.)
  • Zoom out: At least 27 states — including neighboring Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Maine — allow police to use school bus stop-arm footage to crack down on illegal passing.

Cambridge is one step closer to opening a supervised consumption site. WBUR’s Martha Bebinger reports the Cambridge City Council voted unanimously to consider opening a clinic where staff would supervise illegal drug use to prevent overdoses and deaths. “People are 30-40% more likely to get into treatment through an overdose prevention center,” said Councilor Marc McGovern, the lead sponsor. “You can’t get into treatment if you’re dead.”

  • Zoom in: The measure passed last night doesn’t directly mean opening a center. Rather, it starts a process to get community input on where Cambridge might locate the clinic and who might run it.
  • The big picture: Cambridge will likely have a hard time finding medical staff to run any potential overdose prevention center, unless Massachusetts state lawmakers pass legislation to legalize themSomerville and Worcester have also taken steps toward opening clinics, but current state laws have been an obstacle.

State of confusion: The task force formed by Gov. Maura Healey to propose long-term transportation funding ideas is feeling a little perplexed about its mission, according to one of its members. “I think a lot of us were told we’d be doing one thing and we’ve recently been asked to do something else,” task force member Brian Kane said on Radio Boston yesterday. “I think a lot of us are very disheartened.”

  • Catch up: As WBUR’s Rob Lane reports, the task force was designed to work free from outside influence. But after its chair, Transportation Secretary Monica Tibbits-Nutt, floated controversial ideas about new tolls and taxes, Healey said such measures were off the table. CommonWealth Beacon reported last week some task force members believe their mission has since shifted, from a funding plan to a “tool kit” for lawmakers.
  • Go deeper: “Someone has to pay for our infrastructure” and “we can’t all be winners,” Kane said. Listen here to the full Radio Boston conversation about the fight over transportation funding.

The MBTA’s Framingham/Worcester commuter rail line has been reopened on both tracks, following an accident that killed two people and caused major rush hour delays and cancellations last night. Officials say a commuter rail train struck two people on the tracks around 5:30 p.m. in Natick, but have released few other details.

  • In other T news: You can call off the strike. The T’s commuter rail operator Keolis has tentatively agreed to a new, five-year contract with the union representing its car inspectors and coach cleaners.

P.S.— WBUR’s flagship morning radio news program will soon have a new host. Rupa Shenoy will leave Morning Edition this summer, nearly three years after succeeding longtime host Bob Oakes. You can read more here on what’s next for both Rupa and Morning Edition.


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Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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