QA's seeks to improve school bus safety

Queen Anne's County law enforcement officers, bus drivers and school administrators are seeking to raise awareness of the need for motorists to stop when children are getting on and off school buses.

CENTREVILLE — On a single day during the 2017 school year, Maryland bus drivers reported approximately 3,384 vehicles passed their buses illegally, according to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services.

By law, motorists are required to stop when a school bus has its red lights activated and stop arm extended. Queen Anne’s County Public Schools has partnered with the sheriff’s office and Maryland State Police to raise driver awareness of the law.

On May 21, the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners introduced an to enable the use of video cameras on school buses.

The ordinance states it is “For the purpose of providing for photographic enforcement and administrative adjudication of school bus stop arm violations and imposition of civil fines for those violations, consistent with Maryland state law.”

Many school buses already have cameras that show the activity on the bus. This ordinance would permit a camera to capture images outside showing vehicles illegally driving past the stopped bus.

“If you are found illegally passing a school bus that has its red lights flashing and stop arm extended, you are breaking the law. This reckless action endangers young lives and can result in a $570 fine and three points on your license,” said Queen Anne's County Sheriff Gary Hofmann.

Hofmann said deputies are committed to promoting school bus safety through education and enforcement.

“The safety of our students is our top priority,” said Sidney Pinder, chief operating officer of Queen Anne’s County Public Schools.

Even without a photo or video, police agencies will respond to reports of violations.

“We also encourage our community members to report these incidents to your local law enforcement agency,” Hofmann said. “If you observe an individual passing a stopped school bus and are able to obtain their tag number, please forward it to our office. We take the safety of our children very seriously and encourage others to do the same.”

The commissioners will hold a public hearing on the bill June 25.

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