Fewer Drivers Stopping for School Bus Stop Arms

This Week, October 22-26, is School Bus Safety Week as proclaimed by Governor Hogan. However, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) reports that School Bus Stop Arm violations are on the rise.

According to the Department’s press release:

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.

The Devastating Facts

  1. Over 800 students are killed going to and from school every year nationwide (Source: National Research Council)
  2. Driver violations totaled 7,011 in 2011 (Source: MSDE)
  3. Around 19 children are killed each year getting on and off the bus (Source: Maryland Vehicle Administration) 

According to State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon (MSDE press release):

Each Maryland driver must do their part to maintain safe driving practices, and remember that the lives of our students are at stake. 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.

The Law

  • Vehicles must stop when the bus displays flashing red warning lights and extends the stop signal arm
  • Vehicles may not pass until the flashing red lights and signals are turned off
  • Vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus are always required to stop
  • In some states, vehicles moving in the opposite direction on a divided roadway are also required to stop
  • Never pass on the right side of the bus, where children enter or exit
  • Violation of these laws can result in a citation and fine

What Now?

Read more from the experts:

National Association for Pupil Transportation- School Bus Safety tips for students

Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration- Kids, the School Bus, and You