WASHINGTON, D.C. –– Since their implementation in the greater Washington area in 2013, stop-arm cameras have generated at least 1,500 citations to motorists who passed stopped school buses, a study has found.
The finding is from a cross-sectional review by AAA Mid-Atlantic of five out of seven area jurisdictions that have deployed the technology. Officials from area police departments and AAA Mid-Atlantic said that the stop-arm cameras have already proven effective in curbing a key transportation-related safety risk to area students.
“Drivers are putting schoolchildren at risk and breaking the law when they overtake a stopped school bus displaying an extended stop signal arm and flashing red lights,” said John Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs. “It is against the law, and it is inexcusable.”
Most of the stop-arm camera tickets in the D.C. area have been in Montgomery County, which has issued 1,024, according to the Montgomery County Police Department. Those tickets total $129,024 in fines. Only 16 of the citations were challenged in court.
Montgomery County’s legislative delegation has introduced a bill aimed at doubling the maximum civil penalty for stop-arm running from $250 to $500.
Stop-arm cameras in Prince George’s County, Maryland, have captured 10 violations of drivers passing stopped school buses since the cameras were put into service countywide in September 2014, statistics from the Prince George’s County Police Department show. AAA Mid-Atlantic explained that while those numbers may seem low, the technology is not yet ubiquitously deployed on the county’s fleet of 1,247 school buses. Twenty buses were equipped with the stop-arm cameras at the beginning of the school year.
“Despite the number of citations, we are seeing fewer violations than before the cameras were installed because drivers are aware of their use,” said Maj. Robert Liberati, who leads the automated enforcement division of the Prince George’s County Police Department. “As a result, they are now less likely to whisk past stopped school buses to avoid being caught on camera while committing the dangerous and costly infraction.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic’s review of stop-arm camera citations in the D.C. area also included data from Falls Church City, Virginia; Washington County, Maryland; and Frederick County, Maryland.