Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Council Approves School Bus Cameras

We unanimously approved a bill that authorizes installation of cameras on County school buses to monitor vehicles that illegally pass stopped buses. Given that about 100,000 students ride school buses in Montgomery County, this is a very important safety measure.

The bill authorizes the County’s Chief of Police, after consulting with the Board of Education, to install cameras on Montgomery County Public School buses to monitor traffic. Drivers caught on tape illegally passing a stopped school bus would be subject to a maximum civil fine of up to $250. No points would be assessed to an individual’s driving record.

A Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) survey released in March 2011 reported that in a single day in February, 7,028 drivers overtook stopped buses in Maryland. The report stated 56.9 percent of the violators were oncoming vehicles passing the bus from the opposite direction; 37.9 percent passed the bus from behind on the driver’s side; and 5.2 percent passed the bus of the side of the bus passenger door. The survey was coordinated by MSDE along with transportation directors in all 24 County school systems. Approximately 65 percent (more than 4,700) of all bus drivers statewide participated in the survey.

The approximately 1,500 County school bus drivers file an average of 500 reports each about drivers who illegally pass their stopped buses during a school year. Local school bus drivers showed strong support for the measure.

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