Counties: Protect Our Students, Keep Fines for School Bus Stop Violations in Place

On February 23, 2023, Associate Policy Director Sarah Sample testified before the House Environment and Transportation Committee in opposition to HB 849 – School Bus Stops – Violations – Enforcement and Safety Measures.

This bill requires law enforcement agencies to issue a warning, rather than a citation, for qualifying school bus stop violations on State highways. Under current practice, motor vehicle violations occuring in dangerously close range to school bus stops carry a minor civil penalty that has proven to be a powerful mechanism in ensuring that drivers act in accordance with the law. Minimizing this deterrent for first-time offenders could very well endanger students across the State.

From the MACo Testimony:

School bus monitoring systems have the distinct ability to capture violations by motor vehicles when they happen at dangerously close range to students, especially on state highways where the speed limits are higher than neighborhood streets. The great benefit of these programs is their ability to change behavior quickly and ensure that drivers exercise extreme caution when encountering a school bus. The civil fine that comes with these violations is a powerful mechanism to make sure residents abide by these laws. A warning, without a civil fine, does not elicit the same response as when an actual penalty accompanies the violation. A first-time penalty is proven to drastically reduce recidivism rates immediately, advancing the true policy goal: safer roadways for students. Waiting for a second violation before applying a penalty leaves the possibility open for hundreds of thousands of drivers to make the mistake again, which simply serves to multiply the danger that students experience in these environments.

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