Num­ber of bus sign vi­o­la­tions in­creases in county

One-day sur­vey shows 15 per­cent jump in driv­ers fail­ing to stop

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­

The num­ber of school bus stop arm vi­o­la­tions in Charles County has reached a five-year high, ac­cord­ing to a one-day sur­vey spon­sored by the Mary­land State Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion.

The sur­vey was con­ducted on a sin­gle day last April in all 24 Mary­land school dis­tricts, and is con­sid­ered a snap­shot of il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity on the road. Ap­prox­i­mately 76 per­cent of Mary­land school bus driv­ers took part in the sur vey.

Statewide, the num­ber of re­ported stop arm vi­o­la­tions was 4,326 — a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease over the 2,795 re­ported stop arm vi­o­la­tions in 2015.

“Mary­land schools have re­opened for the new year, and all driv­ers must re-fo­cus on the safety of our chil­dren. It is il­le­gal to pass a bus with its stop arm ex­tended and its lights flash­ing,” said Karen Salmon, Mary­land su­per­in­ten­dent of schools, in a MSDE news re­lease. “It is clear that we have more to do as we all work to keep stu­dents out of harm’s way.”

In Charles County, where 95 per­cent of bus driv­ers par­tic­i­pated, there were 178 re­ported stop arm vi­o­la­tions, an ap­prox­i­mately 15 per­cent in­crease over the 155 re­ported stop arm vi­o­la­tions in 2015.

The 2016 fig­ure is the high­est since the first year of the sur­vey, when 213 vi­o­la­tions were


In neigh­bor­ing Prince Ge­orge’s County, the num­ber of re­ported vi­o­la­tions nearly tripled, from 230 in 2015 to 658 in 2016. In St. Mary’s County, the num­ber of re­ported stop arm vi­o­la­tions nearly dou­bled, from 36 in 2015 to 65 in 2016.

In Calvert County, the num­ber of re­ported vi­o­la­tions ac­tu­ally dropped from 39 in 2015 to 20 in 2016.

Michael Heim, Charles County Pub­lic Schools as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent of sup­port­ing ser­vices, said he was un­sure as to why there is an in­crease in Charles County.

“As more and more peo­ple move into the county, we’ve seen an in­crease in the amount of traf­fic. Charles County has a large com­muter pop­u­la­tion, and many of the ve­hi­cles are on the road at the same time as our buses,” Heim said. “Part of it could be dis­tracted driv­ers, more peo­ple who are tex­ting or us­ing cell phones while driv­ing.”

Heim said the trans­porta­tion depart­ment works closely with the Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice and Mary­land State Po­lice to tar­get ar­eas where high num­bers of stop arm vi­o­la­tions have oc­curred.

Heim urged driv­ers to stop when they see the flash­ing red lights of the bus’s arm.

“It’s a se­ri­ous safety con­cern for the chil­dren of Charles County when driv­ers are dis­tracted and don’t stop,” Heim said.

Last month, Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) re­leased more than $500,000 to lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies to as­sist in en­forc­ing Mary­land school bus safety laws. The grants will be used to pay for po­lice over­time and pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams, ac­cord­ing to a MSDE news re­lease.

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