ROCKVILLE, Md. - In just the first month, a new school bus enforcement program in Montgomery County issued 10 citations to drivers who ignored bus stop signs.
Craig Rice, president of the Montgomery County Council, called the 10 citations "extremely concerning."
The citations were issued between January and early February to drivers who were caught on camera passing stopped school buses as children were dropped off or picked up. The cameras are part of a program announced last year in Montgomery County.
"God forbid we ever had a child that died at the hands of someone passing a school bus," Rice said during a briefing with reporters Monday.
Rice said the cameras on school buses are not revenue raisers. "This is a public safety issue."
And it's an issue that hits close to home for the new council president.
"I saw it happen right before my eyes where my daughter was almost hit by a car," he said.
Rice said that before the cameras were ever installed in county school buses, there was a public information campaign to let drivers know about the new devices and to remind them of the law that states it's illegal to pass a school bus that is picking up or dropping off students.
Drivers must stop when they see the flashing lights on the bus followed by the stop sign attached to an arm that is extended. The only exception to the law is when buses are on divided highways.
Rice acknowledges that 10 violations may not seem like much in a large county, but there are only 10 cameras in use now. By the end of the month, 25 cameras will be installed on buses that are part of the Montgomery County Public Schools fleet.
Rice said what concerns him most is the fact that people are violating the law despite the earlier education campaign.
"That means that either people still aren't educated about the dangers that are out there or about the law, or that they don't care," Rice said. "Either way we've really got to get a handle on this and make sure that people understand what a danger this is."
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