Area drivers are paying tens of millions of dollars worth of tickets for illegally passing stopped school buses, according to a new data by the Mid-Atlantic AAA.
Montgomery County, Maryland police ticketed 50,993 drivers for the offense in the last two years, the car association said Monday. The combined county revenue from the tickets in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years is $10,172,375.
Captain Thomas Didone of Montgomery County Police Department told AAA that: “Montgomery County mandates 182 days of student instruction. Each school day in Montgomery County last year around 190 motorists, on average, were detected red-handed by school bus stop arm cameras in the very act of illegally passing school buses when the stop arm was deployed and red lights were flashing.”
Capt. Didone also noted that about 4 percent of those 50,000 ticket drivers passed stopped school buses again and were ticketed more than once by Montgomery police.
By comparison, only 800 drivers were ticketed in Prince George’s County during the past 3 years.
One reason Montgomery County may have generated more fines overall is that more of its buses are equipped with cameras.
Around Montgomery County, 500 buses have cameras mounted on their “stop-arms.” Prince George’s County has 20 cameras which police “rotate” through different bus routes, according to a department spokesperson who spoke with AAA.
Increasing the number of cameras does correlate with an increased number of tickets. Montgomery County started with 210 school buses with cameras during the 2016-2017 school year and ticketed 16,215 drivers. After outfitting 290 more buses with cameras, police ticketed 34,778 drivers the following year - more than double the previous year.
Prince George’s County police cited 92 for passing buses during the 2015-2016 school year, 232 in the 2016-2017 school year, and 475 last year.
Montgomery County police plan to mount cameras on 400 more buses, and eventually equip all school buses with the so-called “stop arm” cameras by January.
Illegally passing a school bus carries a $250 fine in both Maryland and Virginia.
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