School Bus Safety

Montgomery County

Montgomery County Government, Police, and Public Schools personnel continue to educate drivers about the importance of complying with Maryland laws pertaining to stopped school buses with activated flashing red lights and stop arms.

Through the school bus camera enforcement program, drivers continue to be captured in enforcement photos either stopping for a moment and then proceeding, or totally ignoring the red lights and stop arm, and driving right by the signalized stopped school bus.

Our school-bus-riding-children should not have to worry about that kind of danger. It’s a serious problem, but one that community members can help solve by taking an active role through learning the law, sharing that information with others, and always obeying the school bus laws.

The Law:

  • Two Lane & Multi-Lane Roadway: Motorists travelling in both directions -- regardless of how many travel lanes or the presence of a turn lane -- must stop and remained stopped until the bus red lights are turned off. Remember, “Paint (the line markings on the roadway) Doesn’t Protect” (children crossing the street).
  • Multi-lane Roadway divided by a Median Strip: The only time a motorist does not have to stop is when travelling in the opposite direction of a bus on a multi-lane highway that is divided by a physical barrier such as a grassy or paved median strip. In that case alone, only traffic following the bus must stop. Drivers travelling in the opposite direction on the other side of the median strip may proceed with caution.

What Drivers Need to Do:

  • Be Prepared to Stop whenever following or approaching a school bus. Bus drivers will activate flashing yellow lights on the bus 100 to 300 feet before the bus is going to stop to load or unload children.
  • Stop and Stay Stopped when red lights flash, even if you don’t see children in the roadway. Do not begin to drive until the red lights are turned off or the bus begins to move…even if you don’t see children in the roadway.

Basic Facts:
All camera-generated violations are reviewed by the police department’s Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit and citations are mailed to the registered owner. The camera-generated fine as of July 1, 2017, is $250. No points are associated with a citation issued through the automated school bus camera program. The fine for a citation for the same offense issued by a police officer is $570 and three points are assessed on the driver’s license.

Program Expansion:
On June 30, 2016, the County changed school bus camera vendors from the Xerox company to the FXS company. As of September 5, 2017, 500 school buses will be equipped with FXS cameras. The goal for camera installation on all of the County’s 1,200 buses is January of 2019.

The school bus camera enforcement program began on January 2, 2014. In the first two and a half years of the program, approximately 4,800 violations were recorded by 25 enforcement cameras. During the majority of the 2016-2017 school year, school bus cameras generated 19,566 citations. With an additional 525 violations recorded during summer school. These numbers confirm that drivers passing a signalized school bus stopped to load or unload students is a significant safety issue.

Why Don’t Drivers STOP:

  • Ignorance or incomplete understanding of the school bus laws

  • Impatient or being so rushed that leads a conscious decision is made not to stop, or to stop momentarily and proceed before the red lights are turned off

  • Incomplete attention/driving distracted, with texting and phone use being leading causes. Other distractions include: talking to passengers, eating and drinking, grooming, reading, using a navigation system, or adjusting a radio.

Let’s all work together to protect our kids!