To most conscientious drivers in cities like Washington, D.C., Annapolis, Gaithersburg and Rockville, a school bus with its flashers on or stop signal extended is reason enough to stop and yield to the young children carried around our state on a daily basis. But surprising as it may seem, many motorists do not place the same importance on these standard safety devices, even though the welfare of our children traveling to and from school should be an imperative.
As Baltimore auto accident attorneys and Maryland personal injury lawyers, we know how badly a child can be hurt during a violent car or truck collision. As passengers, children can be injured or killed in motor vehicle wrecks, but as pedestrians young people have an even greater chance of being seriously injured, or even die from their injuries. One of the most dangerous times for kids, regarding highway and urban car-pedestrians collisions, is when children are walking to and from school.
Almost as dangerous is when kids are getting on and off a school bus. Although drivers are taught to obey school bus warning lights and be vigilant for students crossing the street at a bus stop, there still are accidents, many of them deadly or life-altering. Not long ago we ran across and article that suggests our school-age children are not as safe as every parent hopes.
According to the news item, many automobile drivers either miss or outright ignore the extended “stop” sign on Maryland school buses. In fact, a survey conducted in Anne Arundel County showed that cars, pickups and minivans did not stop for the extended “Stop” arm on a local school bus a total of 845 in one day.
According to the news article, the Maryland State Department of Education sponsored a statewide survey to collect information on the number of drivers who violated the stop arms of school buses. In just one day, based on responses from bus drivers, more than 7,000 violations occurred in Anne Arundel County alone. It’s no secret that when a school bus stops to pick up or drop off youngsters the bus driver activates the vehicle’s red flashing lights and then swings the “Stop” sign out to alert drivers to come to a complete stop.
Although the law requires drivers to come to a complete stop when a bus has its flashers on and the stop sign extended, it appears that a percentage of Maryland drivers can’t remember what they were taught in driver’s education many years ago.
The article mentioned that most of the infractions came from oncoming drivers who drove past the stop arm nearly 4,000 times. To round out the numbers, 2,665 vehicles passed the bus on the driver’s side while 366 drivers decided to pass the stopped bus on the door side of the vehicle.
Currently, the fine for illegally passing a Maryland school bus is $570, plus two points on one’s driver’s record. Several bills are on the table that could change those fines and points and legislation by the Maryland General Assembly has called for school systems to install cameras on buses to help catch violators.
Stopping for the School Bus, Patch.com, March 29, 2011