WASHINGTON — By the time your kids head back to school after the winter break in Montgomery County, some of their school buses are expected to have a new piece of equipment: exterior cameras. A fraction of the school’s fleet of 1,100 school buses will be getting the new technology.
Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin says it came as a surprise to her over the summer that the county’s school buses hadn’t yet been equipped with 25 exterior cameras. “This is a serious problem!” More than a year ago she’d pushed to get the equipment designed to catch drivers who break the law by passing school buses when they stop to pick up or drop off children.
A frustrated Ervin had written to Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett to ask why the cameras hadn’t been purchased and installed. Ervin said last week, the Leggett administration said the cameras would be ordered and installed by Jan. 3. But before then, the Montgomery County police will kick off a public awareness campaign. “We’re going to have to re-educate the public,” says Ervin.
In Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia drivers are required to stop when school buses come to a halt to pick up children or to drop them off. The one exception, according to police in Fairfax and Montgomery counties, is when buses are on a divided highway.
In Maryland, cars that pass stopped school buses can be cited. Fines start at $125.