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Allegany BOE Reminds Motorists of Bus Laws

August 19th, 2013 by WCBC Radio

Allegany County Public Schools will open for the 2013-2014 school year on Monday, August 26, 2013. Nearly 6,000 students will ride school buses, and the school system’s transportation department has established routes for 130 buses that will travel more than 1.6 million miles this school year.
According to the ACPS Supervisor of Transportation, Larry Humbertson, “Our number one priority is always student safety. We need the community’s support to keep students safe.” However, drivers continue to bypass the stop arms on school buses, according to a new Maryland State Department of Education-sponsored survey.
The Maryland Motor Vehicle Law requires the driver of a vehicle to come to a complete stop for a school bus loading or unloading students with the red warning lights activated. When the red lights are engaged and the stop arm is employed, it means that students are getting on or off of school buses and motorists are to STOP. According to the MSDE-sponsored survey, a total of 3,392 violations of school bus stop arms were recorded in a single day last spring. Allegany County recorded five violations on the day of the survey. While that rate is less than half that of the initial survey in 2011, nearly seven in ten bus drivers witnessed a violation.
“Schools are set to open, and student safety id our paramount concern,” said State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lillian Lowery. “Drivers must understand that it is illegal to pass a bus with its stop arm extended and its lights flashing.” She went on to say, “While we are gratified with the progress being made, we want to emphasize that every student of ours is precious. There are no excuses for this violation.”
Motorists are also advised that buses operate with an eight-light warning system. School bus drivers flash their yellow amber lights at least 100 feet in advance as they approach a stop. Their red warning lights are not activated until the bus has come to a complete stop. Larry Humbertson states, “The message is clear – prepare to stop and do not run the warning lights.” The fine for passing a stopped school bus while flashing its red light is $570 and three points on your driving record.
The only time that a motorist does not have to stop for the red flashing warning lights of a school bus is on a solid divided highway. If the road is divided by a median strip, a concrete wall, or any other physical barrier, motorists traveling in the opposite direction are not required to stop.
MSDE coordinated the survey in April along with school transportation directors in all 24 systems. More than 70% of the Maryland school bus drivers took part in the survey, compared to 63% completing the survey last year.
To ensure that the school bus passing law never has a child’s name attached to it, it will take a community effort of parents teaching their children safe bus stop behavior; bus drivers exercising proper bus stop procedures; and all other motorists obeying the law. Everyone’s goal is to make the 2013-2014 school year one with no injuries and a reduction in traffic violations while increasing awareness.

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