The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) wants motorist to know if they pass a school bus with their stop sign extended, expect to be charged with a moving violation that will cost up to $300 in fines and tack three points on your license.

A survey conducted by MSDE at the end of the 2012-13 school year found motorists often ignore stop arms on school buses. The MSDE estimates that nearly 3,400 drivers illegally drove past a school bus while their stop sign was extended.

“The overall goal is the safety of our children,” William Reinhard, spokesman for MSDE told the AFRO.

He said the idea is to remind drivers that it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus when the stop sign is extended, and their hazard lights are flashing.

“For the safety of the children, drivers must stop in each direction,” he said.

In April, more than 70 percent of the Maryland school bus drivers took part in the survey, where seven out of 10 bus drivers said they witnessed a violation.

“While we are gratified with the progress being made, we want to emphasize that every student of ours is precious,” State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery said in a statement. “Drivers must understand that it is illegal to pass a bus with its stop arm extended and its lights flashing.”

In Maryland, there are nearly 7,000 school buses that ferry students to and from school, and in some cases to after-school activities.

Reinhard told the AFRO drivers should be more aware of their surroundings. “I’m sure it’s frustrating because they school buses usually stop during rush hour however, it’s for the child’s safety.”

In 2012, an Ohio woman was arrested after she repeatedly drove on a sidewalk, all because she didn’t want to wait for the school bus to load and unload kids. Shena Hardin was caught by a Cleveland police officer and was charged with reckless driving and failure to stop for a school bus.

In an interview Harden’s mother said, “the bus takes too long.” A problem Reinhard said happens often. “We live in a society where people need to get somewhere fast and unfortunately traffic doesn’t always allow that.”

“There are no excuses for this violation,” Lowery said.


Blair Adams

AFRO Staff Writer