The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a bill Tuesday to authorize the installation of traffic cameras on the outside of school buses.
Inside buses, as in schools, video cameras are a commonly used
crime deterrent. But on the roads, bus drivers report, the familiar red and white octagonal sign that unfolds as they stop to pick up or drop off children is often patently ignored.
In a one-day survey released by the state Board of Education last year that covered most of the school buses in the state, drivers reported that about 7,000 people ignored the red stop sign and flashing lights and kept driving. That number included 1,645 violations in Montgomery County alone.
Violators of the law could receive a ticket in the mail for up to $250.
“We are fortunate that we passed this bill today without the need to name it after a child who has been killed by someone who believes that speeding past a stopped school bus is more important than protecting our county’s school children,” said Council member Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring). “The goal of this bill is to keep our students safe by changing driver behavior.”
School officials hope to outfit the first two dozen school buses with the cameras, which cost between $5,000 and $8,000 each, by next school year. The total budget for cameras is still not settled — it could take a long time to outfit Montgomery’s entire fleet, which includes more than 1,200 buses.