News, Public Saftey, School News

Motorists reminded to be cautious, follow school bus safety laws as students return to class

s thousands of students are heading back to class next week, Maryland State Police and the Maryland Center for School Safety are reminding motorists to be alert as children are getting on and off school buses.

In a typical school year, more than 600,000 Maryland students ride school buses in Maryland. Remember, drivers must stop at least 20 feet from the bus, regardless of which direction they’re approaching. They must not attempt to pass by the bus until the stop signal and flashing lights are off and the bus is in motion once again. Violation of these laws incurs a $250 fine if caught on camera, and up to $570 and a three-point penalty on a driver’s license if stopped by a police officer.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2011 to 2020, there were 1,009 fatal school-transportation-related crashes, and 1,125 people killed in those crashes – an average of 113 fatalities a year.

From 2011 to 2020 there were 218 school-age children who died in school-transportation-related crashes nationally, which included 44 occupants of school transportation vehicles, 83 were occupants of other vehicles and 85 pedestrians. In addition, more school-age pedestrians were killed from 3 to 3:59 p.m. and 7 to 7:59 a.m. than any other hours of the day from 2011 to 2020.

The Maryland Center for School Safety (MCSS) encourages Marylanders and visitors to:

—Always pay attention when driving, especially in school zones and during school bus stops;

—Always stop when a bus stops; it is illegal to pass a school bus with its red lights

flashing and stop-arm extended when it has stopped to load or unload students;

—Always ensure that any mask or face shield that you wear out in public does not prevent you from maintaining a clear line of sight when operating a motor vehicle or walking near moving vehicles; and;

—Always remember that children’s brains are still developing – don’t expect them to behave as you would when

entering, exiting, or in a school bus; therefore, always maintain a safe distance from school buses at all times.

For additional school bus safety tips, visit the Maryland Highway Safety Office website online.