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School Bus Stop Arm Violations Drop as Maryland Places Focus on School Safety

School Bus Safety Week is October 16-20

BALTIMORE – Greater attention is being paid to the stop arms on school buses, a new Maryland State Department of Education-sponsored survey has found.

Stop arms swing out from a bus and lights flash whenever it is making an on-roadway student pick-up. A total of 3,384 violations of school bus stop arms were recorded on a single day last spring. That represents nearly a 1,000 violation decrease compared to the number recorded in 2016 and well below the 7,011 recorded when the survey began in 2011.

Governor Larry Hogan issued a proclamation declaring School Bus Safety week from October 16-20. The new survey results are being released as that observance is about to begin.

It is important to maintain a focus on school bus safety for students, according to Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools.

“Maryland schools this year opened to record enrollment, and all drivers must re-double their attention on traffic laws and the safety of our children. It is illegal to pass a bus with its stop arm extended and its lights flashing,” Dr. Salmon said. “Drivers have made important progress, but one violation of the Stop Arm is one too many when student safety is our paramount concern.”

MSDE coordinated the survey in April along with school transportation directors in all 24 school systems. It is considered a snapshot of illegal activity on the roads. Eighty percent of Maryland school bus drivers took part in the survey.

School systems, bus drivers, and law enforcement have been raising awareness about stop arm violations for the past seven years.

Large systems with more buses and bus routes noted the most violators. Baltimore County tallied the most – 767, followed closely by 661 witnessed by Montgomery County school bus drivers. Both systems found significant decreases in comparison to last year.

The MSDE survey this past spring was undertaken at the behest of a number of members of the Maryland General Assembly, which has been monitoring school bus safety. The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services is coordinating surveys of this type in all 50 States.

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