Caught on Film: Bus Cameras Aim to Stop Passing Cars and Protect Kids

Every year, thousands of children are injured or killed in school bus related accidents. One of the varying causes of these accidents includes motorists that choose to pass stopped school buses on the road. In many of these cases, moving vehicles fail to see children crossing the street in front of the stopped bus, and consequently strike them. In pedestrian vs. vehicle accidents, the pedestrian most always suffers extreme injuries or even death.

To curb the ongoing problem in Montgomery County, external cameras will be mounted to the sides of school buses. This effort hopes to deter drivers from performing the dangerous road violation, and encourage them to stop when a school bus is stopped. Once the additional 20 cameras are installed onto the buses, any vehicle that passes a school bus with its stop arm extended will be photographed by a camera. The Montgomery County Police Department’s Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit will review every photo before issuing a citation to the vehicle’s registered owner. Those who are ticketed will receive a $125 fine via mail.

Which buses will have cameras?

According to Police Captain Tom Didone, who heads up the Montgomery County Police Department’s Traffic Division, the cameras will be rotated to varying trouble spots through the county, and that some buses could also be equipped with camera covers, yet lack the actual cameras themselves, to also deter passing drivers.

How many students use the school bus system?

Montgomery County Public Schools have more than 100,000 students that currently are transported to and from school via the system’s approximately 1,300 buses. These buses travel on 1,100 bus routes and make more than 40,000 bus stops each day. The issue of drivers passing these stopped buses is a serious problem that has the Montgomery County Council concerned.

An Alarming Statistic

In August, the Maryland State Department of Education released a one-day survey. The results of the survey showed that 1,078 drivers in Montgomery County ignored the stop arms on school buses, and chose to drive around, anyways.

In October, Councilmember Craig Rice (D-Upcounty) stated that his daughter almost became a victim of one of these passing vehicles in October of 2013, an incident that he happened to witness. In early January 2014 Montgomery County Police launched a media campaign to inform the public about the new cameras added to many school buses throughout the county, as well as the safety issues concerning passing a stopped school bus.

Questions or Concerns? We’re Here to Help!

If you have questions or comments about these new changes concerning traffic cameras on school buses, please feel free to comment on our Facebook page or Twitter feed. At Lewis & Tompkins, we’d love to hear from you, and help you understand how these laws, and others like them, are designed to protect the rights of accident victims throughout Maryland.

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