Maryland Drivers Ignore School Buses’ Red Flashing Warning Lights, Needlessly Endangering School Children
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) boasts that students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely than traveling by car. Buses are also equipped with many safety features bright yellow paint, flashing red lights, and stop sign arms to direct and navigate traffic. But Maryland drivers are often ignoring the bright red flashing lights and driving by school buses as they pick up or drop off students.
The law in Maryland is clear, drivers must come to a complete stop when the flashing red lights on a school bus are activated and wait until the lights have been turned off before proceeding forward. This always applies to all traffic traveling in the same direction as the stopped school bus. It also applies to vehicles traveling in the opposite direction except where there is a divided median. Only where there is a is a concrete median or grass median dividing the lanes, can traffic traveling in the opposite direction of the bus proceed. Violators of this Maryland Motor Vehicle Code can be given a fine of up to $570.00 and have three points assessed on their driving record. The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is encouraging police to better enforce this law designed to protect children while getting on and off school buses.
The MDSE has conducted surveys in all 24 counties to determine the extent this law is being violated. In the latest survey for the 2017-2018 school year, there were 3,812 school bus driver reports of vehicles not stopping when students were being loaded or unloaded from school buses. However, the real numbers measured by bus cameras are much higher. Counties are beginning to expand school bus camera enforcement programs where school buses have cameras that take pictures of vehicles as they pass school buses with their flashing red lights on. Under the program, the owner of the vehicle which passes a stopped bus with flashing red warning lights is given a $250 ticket.
Montgomery County school bus camera enforcement program cited 4,800 car owners for violations in the 2016 school year when only 12 buses had cameras installed. In the 2018 school year, 500 of its 1,200 buses had cameras installed to record dangerous motorists who did not stop for school buses. Montgomery County counted 19,566 citations issued to the car owners where their vehicle dangerously and illegally passed a school bus with red flashing lights. Expanding the school bus camera enforcement program is critical to making reckless drivers aware of their obligation to stop at red flashing lights. Student safety depends on drivers following the law to permit them to travel to school safely.
If you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of a serious school bus accident, call the school bus accident lawyers at The Yost Legal Group at 1-800-YOST-LAW (1-800-967-8529). The Yost Legal Group has extensive experience in handling school bus accident claims in Baltimore and throughout the state of Maryland. We will review every detail of your situation at no cost to you and help provide answers you seek. And, there is no fee or expense unless you recover.
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