WASHINGTON — It seems like a no-brainer: Don’t drive past a stopped school bus with its lights flashing and stop sign in view. It’s been the law for decades, and more equipment has been added over the years to make it more obvious. But it still happens on a disturbingly regular basis in the D.C. suburbs, and it may be getting worse.
In the past three years, more than 2,200 drivers have been charged with driving past stopped buses, NBC Washington reports, and some of the video captured is hair-raising, including an SUV speeding between a bus and a group of kids heading toward it to get on board.
NBC Washington put cameras at three bus stops: on Md. 355, in Gaithersburg, Maryland; on Md. 410, in Riverdale, Maryland; and near the Fairfax line at Va. 29 in Fairfax County. NBC Washington found numerous instances of cars bypassing buses, sometimes with children walking nearby.
And the numbers back up the images: Virginia records show the number of people charged with illegally passing buses went up 10 percent a year between 2011 and 2013. Fifty-seven drivers were charged with bypassing buses at the Md. 355 stop in 2014.
“Even though drivers don’t admit it, they’re distracted. Cellphones, navigational devices and all of those new gadgets that come with new cars, it’s all very distracting,” Cpl. Scott Ainsworth, or the Prince George’s County Police Department, told NBC Washington.
The numbers, from NBC Washington:
- Prince George’s County: 463
- Montgomery County: 482
- Anne Arundel County: 372
- Frederick County: 70
- Howard County: 134
- Charles County: 219
- St. Mary’s County: 172
- Fairfax County: 655
- Arlington County: 154
- Loudoun County: 61