A driver blocks another driver from making a U-turn next to a school bus that had stopped to pick up kids headed to a Maryland elementary school.
It’s a story Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith tells to illustrate the problems that occurring with drivers and school buses in Maryland’s largest school system.
A lot of drivers aren’t stopping when the flashing red lights of school buses come on. And the proof is in the huge increase in tickets that have been issued.
“An inordinate number of people, I’m sad and upset and angry to say, pass school buses while the red lights and stop sign and the arm and all of those things are down,” Smith said.
Between Sept. 1, 2018 and Oct. 7, 2018, there were 1,000 cameras mounted on school buses in Montgomery County.
Those cameras issued 3,470 citations to drivers who didn’t stop when the red lights were flashing.
In the same time frame this year, the county increased the number of buses with those cameras to just over 1,200 – and saw the number of automated tickets doled out soar to 9,347.
That’s a 270% increase in tickets from the year before, with a 20% increase in cameras.
“For heaven’s sake everyone, watch for those big yellow buses,” said Smith.
“When you see a big yellow bus it’s highly likely that there are students in the vicinity.”
While there’s been a nearly 6,000 ticket increase in the automated citations, the number of people stopped by police is down from 39 tickets or warnings over that same five-week period last year to 20 this year.
People caught by the automated cameras are subject to $250 fines. If you’re caught by a police officer, it’s a $570 fine and three points are put on your license.
“It needs to stop,” said Smith. “All students need to be kept safe.”