Survey shows epidemic of school bus passing
More than 7,000 drivers in Maryland were observed passing stopped school buses illegally -- one of the most serious traffic offenses in state law -- during a single-day survey conducted by the Maryland Department of Education.
The figures, gathered from all 24 of the state's jurisdictions, are being used to support an effort by state and local educators to win passage of a bill in the General Assembly to allow the use of cameras mounted on the outside of school buses to enforce the law against passing when the vehicles have their red lights flashing and stop arm deployed.
The survey of 4,712 school bus drivers statewide found the violation to be especially prevalent in Maryland's urban regions and inner suburbs. Baltimore County earned the dubious distinction of being No. with 1,101 violations reported by 457 bus drivers on one day in February.
The survey found the that is law is being widely observed in many of Maryland's more rural counties. For instance, both Allegany County and Queen Anne's County had 130 bus drivers on the lookout but not a single violation, according to the state education department.
The survey found that most of those passing school buses did so when approaching from the front --3,997 of them. It counted 2,665 as passing from behind on the driver's side. Only 366 motorists passed from behind on the door side of the bus -- considered to be the most dangerous form of the offense.
After Baltimore County, high rates of the offense -- more than one per driver counting -- were found in Anne Arundel and Montgomery counties and Baltimore city.
Leon Langley, the state education department's student transportation director, said there have not been any recent fatalities or injuries among students getting off or on school buses. But he said such incidents have occurred in other states.
"The stop arm is absolutely necessary to ensure student safety," he said.
Langley said there is a national effort under way among state school transportation officials to persuade legislatures to allow automated enforcement of the passing laws, which now result in tickets only if a police officer witnesses the violation.
Under the proposed Maryland bill, drivers detected by cameras breaking the law would receive a $100 ticket. Much like the current tickets generated by speed and red light cameras, the citations would not carry points because the cameras identify thhe vehicle rather than the driver.
Getting There would like to hear from bus drivers, parents, drivers or other who have strong views about the proposed law. Please post to the blog or email firstname.lastname@example.org
ONE-DAY STOP ARM VIOLATION SURVEY
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