MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Nearly 51,000 tickets were issued to drivers who were caught on camera illegally passing stopped school buses in Montgomery County over the past two school years, AAA reported on Tuesday.
High-resolution images and video clips of these violations were recorded by stop-arm cameras mounted on a growing number of school buses in Montgomery County, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
From the 2016-17 school year through 2017-18, Montgomery County issued 50,993 stop-arm camera tickets to motorists who illegally passed stopped school buses. Cumulatively, these tickets carried a face value of $10,721,375 in fine revenue, AAA Mid-Atlantic estimates. Current fines in Maryland are $250 per infraction, up from $125, as of July 1, 2017.
When schools in Montgomery County opened a year ago, 500 public school buses in the county’s fleet were equipped with school bus stop-arm cameras. The Montgomery County Police Department hopes to have the cameras installed on 1,200 county school buses by January 2019.
Capt. Thomas Didone of the Montgomery County Police Department said that the county mandates 182 days of student instruction, and an average of about 190 motorists per day were caught by stop-arm cameras.
“We continue to capture scofflaws, including 1,991 repeat violators, in enforcement photos either stopping for a moment, and then proceeding, or totally ignoring the red lights and stop arm, and driving right by the signalized stopped school bus,” Didone said.
John Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs, added, “These drivers are brazenly endangering the lives of schoolchildren as they are exiting or entering their buses. It involves an inexcusable violation of state laws requiring drivers to stop at least 20 feet from the front or rear of a stopped school bus.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic reported that school bus stop-arm cameras have also been deployed by numerous other school districts and law enforcement agencies in the region. That includes cameras installed on 20 school buses in Prince George’s County.
“During the past three school years, nearly 800 motorists were ticketed in the county after being caught on camera for violating school bus stop laws,” said Jennifer Donelan, director of the media relations division for the Prince George’s County Police Department. “For thousands of students, the greatest risk they face is not riding the bus, but approaching and leaving it.”