WASHINGTON — A lot of motorists in Maryland continue to make the dangerous decision to pass school buses which are stopped to pick up children.
During one day this spring, 3,812 Maryland drivers were counted going around buses while stop arms were out, according to survey results from the state’s Department of Education. That total is up from 3,384 stopped bus passers counted last year.
The numbers are part of a survey in which school bus drivers in the state’s 24 counties keep a tally of the number of drivers they witness passing a stopped school bus.
While the number is considered dangerously high, state education officials point out progress is being made in deterring the risky behavior. This year’s count is down considerably from the 2016 total of 4,334 and far below the 2011 total of 7,011.
“It is illegal to pass a bus with its stop arm extended and its lights flashing,” said Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools said in a statement on the numbers. “Our newest survey results show there remains much room for improvement. One violation of the Stop Arm is one too many.”
While the numbers have improved statewide, Montgomery County school bus drivers tallied the most bus passers with 1,038, followed closely by the 677 in Baltimore County. For Montgomery County, this year’s total was a spike from last year’s total of 661 law breakers witnessed by school bus drivers.
In the D.C. area, many school systems have equipped buses with stop arm cameras to help curb these numbers. Montgomery County’s school system is working on equipping all its buses with cameras by 2019, which can result in drivers receiving a $250 ticket in the mail.
Cameras are also used on some buses in Prince George’s and Frederick counties.
Around the D.C. area, getting pulled over for passing a stopped school bus can result in a citation that might top $500.
The numbers released in Maryland coincide with School Bus Safety week, which begins on Monday and ends on Friday.
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