State grants in Maryland will pay for education programs and for police overtime to patrol when school buses are on the road. Photo by Bob Markwardt

State grants in Maryland will pay for education programs and for police overtime to patrol when school buses are on the road. Photo by Bob Markwardt

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — More than $500,000 in state grants is going to local law enforcement agencies in Maryland to help them enforce school bus safety laws.

The grants will be used to pay for overtime for police officers who patrol when school buses are on the road, and for public education programs to inform the driving public about Maryland’s law on stopping for school buses.

“Maryland children are back to school, and many ride school buses every day to get to class,” Gov. Larry Hogan said. “It’s our job — as parents, grandparents, and government leaders — to be sure they are safe on their way to and from school.”

Maryland law requires motorists to stop 20 feet behind or in front of a school bus that has its stop arm extended and red lights flashing while loading or unloading students. Drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses can be fined and receive points on their driving records.

A survey coordinated by the Maryland Department of Education in April found that school bus drivers in the state recorded a total of 4,334 stop-arm violations in one day. That was part of a national effort that tallied more than 74,000 violations.

“You may be late for an appointment, you may be rushing to work, but there’s no excuse to drive past a stopped school bus,” said Glenn Fueston, executive director of the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention, which administered the grant funding through the School Bus Safety Enforcement Fund. “Drivers must remember that speeding past a stopped school bus risks the lives of innocent children and bystanders.”

Fifty agencies from 22 jurisdictions in Maryland are receiving a total of $541,400 in state funding for school bus safety initiatives.

Following the 2016 legislative session, Hogan signed SB 83, which renamed the School Bus Safety Enforcement Fund to the School Safety Enforcement Fund. The legislation will expand the purposes of the fund, provide localities with additional flexibility to address school safety needs, and allow county boards of education, in addition to law enforcement entities, to apply for the grants. The changes will take effect on Oct. 1 and will be incorporated into the next notice of funding availability for the program.

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