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School Bus Stop Arm Violations Increase in Latest Maryland Survey

School Bus Safety Week is October 22-26

BALTIMORE– Maryland school bus drivers reported a disturbing trend in the Maryland State Department of Education’s latest survey of driver behavior: more are ignoring bus stop arms.

Stop arms swing out from a bus and lights flash whenever it is making an on-roadway student pick-up.  A total of 3,812 violations of school bus stop arms were recorded on a single day last spring, compared to 3,384 observed violations in 2017.

“School safety begins with making sure our students have a safe bus trip to and from school,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “This week is a reminder for parents, students, drivers, and others to promote the importance of school bus safety across our state by following simple tips to ensure our children arrive at school unharmed and ready to learn.”

Last year’s uptick is still a significant decrease from 2016, when the number stood at 4,334, and well below the 7,011 recorded when the survey began in 2011. But it is crucial to maintain a focus on school bus safety for students, according to Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools.

“Each Maryland driver must do their part to maintain safe driving practices, and remember that the lives of our students are at stake,” Dr. Salmon said. “It is illegal to pass a bus with its stop arm extended and its lights flashing. Our newest survey results show there remains much room for improvement. One violation of the Stop Arm is one too many.”

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.  Over eighty percent of Maryland school bus drivers took part in the survey.

Governor Larry Hogan issued a proclamation declaring School Bus Safety week from October 22-26.  The new survey results are being released as that observance is beginning.

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

Large systems with more buses and bus routes noted the most violators. Montgomery County tallied the most – 1038, followed closely by 677 witnessed by Baltimore County school bus drivers. This differs from last year when Baltimore County topped the survey, followed by Montgomery.

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.