BALTIMORE — A survey sponsored by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has revealed that thousands of drivers in the state are passing school buses with their stop arms extended and their red lights flashing. A total of 7,028 violations were recorded on a single day last month.
Nearly 4,000 (3,997) of those motorists were oncoming drivers who ignored the stop arm, 2,665 drivers moved past a stopped bus on the bus driver’s side of the vehicle, and 366 drivers passed a stopped bus on the door side.
"It is simply illegal to pass a bus with its stop arm extended and its lights flashing, no matter the circumstances," State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick said. "Our No. 1 priority as educators — and drivers — should be the safety [of] our Maryland schoolchildren."
MSDE coordinated the survey with school transportation directors in all 24 school systems. It is considered a snapshot of illegal activity on the roads. More than 4,712 school bus drivers took part in the survey, representing 65 percent of the school bus drivers in the state.
Large school systems noted the most violators. Baltimore County school bus drivers tallied the most — 1,723 drivers ignoring the stop arm — followed by Montgomery County (1,645), Baltimore City (897), Anne Arundel (845) and Prince George’s (745). Prince George’s found the highest number of door-side violations, 136.
A few small school systems found no violators on the day of the survey: Allegany, Caroline and Queen Anne's.
The survey was undertaken at the request of a number of members of the Maryland General Assembly, which is considering several bills designed to strengthen school bus safety.
The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services has solicited all 50 states to conduct surveys of this type, as SBF previously reported.