Passing Stopped School Buses Could Now Lead to Hefty Fine

Passing Stopped School Buses Could Now Lead to Hefty Fine

"We are hoping that by educating the public about when they're required to stop and by citations going out to the people who do violate the red lights, that our numbers will be reduced to zero," said Barbara Scotto, WCPS Transportation Supervisor.
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. - Starting on Wednesday, drivers should pay extra attention to stopped school buses. Washington County Public Schools and the Sheriff's Office are launching the School Bus Stop Arm Enforcement Program.

If drivers pass a stopped school bus, they could receive a $125 citation.

"We are hoping that by educating the public about when they're required to stop and by citations going out to the people who do violate the red lights, that our numbers will be reduced to zero," said Barbara Scotto, WCPS Transportation Supervisor.

Several county buses have stop arm cameras attached to them and they capture real time pictures and video of violators.

"It is viewed by American Traffic Solutions for potential violations," said Sheriff Mullendore. "And then as a last step it is actually reviewed by one of our deputies to insure that it is an actual violation and that the tags are clearly visible, it matches the type of vehicle that's it's displayed on."

The sheriff says most violations happen because drivers are confused about when to stop. 

"If there is any kind of physical barrier such as a grass median or a concrete barrier then they don't have to stop. If there's only lines painted on the roadway then they do have to stop," said Sheriff Mullendore. "My advise to motorists is if you're in doubt irregardless then I would stop either way."

School officials hope this program prevents any possible accidents.

"We've been very, very fortunate that we have not had an incident with a student stuck or injured while they've been trying to get on or off a school bus. But this process will eventually educate the public and potentially reduce our violations to zero," said Scotto. "It's about the safety of children."

The Sheriff's Office and American Traffic Solutions, the camera vendors, will evaluate the program's progress in five years.

Officials say there are still deputies following school buses and citing violators. But if you get stopped by an officer, it's a $560 fine and two points on your license.
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