MSP Gear Up For Back-to-School Traffic Enforcement

MSP Gear Up For Back-to-School Traffic Enforcement

State police are gearing up for back to school and are increasing patrols in the area.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. - As another school year begins in Washington County, Maryland State Troopers are gearing up with increased patrols and enforcement. 

With stricter driving laws passed last October, officials are cracking down on Maryland's cell phone and seatbelt laws.

If you're stopped without wearing a seatbelt, it's a $83 fine. If you're stopped for using a cell phone or hand held device while driving then it's $83 for the first offense, $140 for the second offense, and $160 for the third offense.

With school back in session, drivers are reminded it's a hefty $570 fine plus three points added to your driver's license, for passing a stopped school bus while it's loading or unloading children with it's stop arm fully extended. Additional financial assistance from the Maryland School Bus Safety Enforcement Fund will allow for more troopers to be out patrolling.

"What I'll do is have a trooper come out off duty, in his police car and follow school buses around just to make sure there are no red light violations and if there are he will enforce them very strictly," said Lt. Michael Fluharty, Commander of the Maryland State Police Hagerstown Barracks.

Lt. Fluharty said one of their biggest concerns is distracted driving. So far this year, police said there have been 19 fatalities in Washington County. It's a number Fluharty said he doesn't want to see growing in the future.

"We're doing everything we can do to stop that number," said Lt. Fluharty. "We've increased enforcement in problem areas. We're also looking at other means of enforcement to try to get the word out to the public to slow down obviously."

And with more young, inexperienced drivers hitting the road, troopers want to remind them that distracted driving is about more than just getting a ticket, it's about saving lives.

"Well any distracted driving is dangerous driving," said Lt. Fluharty. "It's just as dangerous as aggressive driving, sometimes drunk driving. Because the second you take your eyes off the road that's the second you're not paying attention."

School officially starts on Wednesday, August 20 in Washington County.

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