School Bus Safety
School buses are one of the common ways children get to school. While school buses are a safe mode of transportation, children are especially vulnerable as they get on and off the school bus. In Maryland, school bus safety laws exist to help drivers safely navigate the roads where children might be crossing for a school bus.
When do I stop for a school bus?
With the second half of the school year in full swing, it is a good time to refresh our drivers on when they are required to stop for a school bus. As we announced earlier this year, all of our school buses are equipped with Bus Cameras. There was a grace period at the beginning of the year, but now citations are being issued. You can read below to see what to do if you get a Bus Camera ticket.
Anne Arundel County Public Schools has launched a school bus safety program in partnership with Anne Arundel County Police Department in line with MD Transportation Code Section 21-706. The program went into effect on October 1, 2022, following a 30-day warning period.
Most school buses in the school district are now equipped with safety technology - cameras designed to detect vehicles that illegally pass stopped school buses. This safety initiative seeks to curb dangerous motorist behavior around school buses and make the journey to and from school safer for all student riders.
School Bus Safety – A Pervasive Issue in Maryland & Across the United States
Every day, an estimated 600,000 children are transported by school buses throughout Maryland.* In 2019, school bus drivers across the state participated in the NASDPTS illegal passing survey. During the one-day survey, 9,187 bus drivers reported more than 6,388 illegal passings. This is equal to more than 1 million violations that endanger children each school year.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2009 to 2018, 249 children were killed in school transportation-related crashes. Of those children, 52 were on school buses, 92 were in other vehicles, 100 were pedestrians, and four were cyclists. More school-age pedestrians were killed during school opening and closing hours (6 – 8 am and 3 – 4 pm) than any other hour of the day.
*School Bus Fleet Fact Book 2020
What Happens If You Illegally Pass a Stopped School Bus in Anne Arundel County?
Almost all school buses that transport Anne Arundel County Public Schools students are equipped with safety technology, including illegal passing enforcement cameras. Cameras on the side of school buses help capture violation events and vehicle license plate information.
Law enforcement officers will review camera footage of violations and issue citations to a vehicle's registered owner. If someone other than the vehicle's owner was driving at the time, the owner can request a transfer of liability.
The fine for illegally passing a stopped school bus is $250 in Maryland, as in most other states. If a school bus camera captures the evidence, it is a civil violation that carries no points against a motorist’s driving record. If witnessed by a police officer, the citation is $570 with three points on the driver's license.
Data from other safety programs demonstrates that 98 percent of first-time offenders do not receive a second ticket and that 95 percent of drivers do not contest their ticket after seeing video evidence of their violation.
Program Overview: How It Works
When a vehicle illegally passes a school bus with its red lights flashing, a multi-lens camera box on the side of the bus captures the violation and the car's license plate from different depths and angles. The footage, GPS, and timecode data are stored locally on an onboard digital video recorder (DVR) unique to each bus.
The data relating to the incident and violation is sent via an encrypted LTE network to a secure cloud system, where it is filtered by artificial intelligence (AI) software before being reviewed by a trained safety specialist.
If the specialist determines the violation is an offense, the specialist prepares an evidence package for law enforcement. The package is built in accordance with Maryland State law, complete with video footage, still images, license plate number, make, model, driver information, GPS location, and a timestamp of the incident.
The evidence package is then sent to law enforcement partners via a secure cloud portal. Law enforcement officers review the evidence package to approve and issue a citation. If approved, a citation is mailed to the vehicle's owner, who is legally responsible for the violation per Maryland law. The citation is issued along with a link to the AlertBus Driver Education & Payment Portal, where the vehicle owner can view video evidence of their violation. The vehicle owner makes their payment online, through the mail, or over the phone. Citations can also be contested through the District Court of Maryland.
When To Stop for Stopped School Bus in Maryland
When a school vehicle stops and flashes its red lights, traffic meeting, or approaching must stop at least 20 feet from the rear or front of the school vehicle.
On two-lane and multi-lane roadways:
- Motorists traveling in both directions – regardless of how many travel lanes or the presence of a turn lane – must stop and remain stopped until the flashing red bus lights are turned off.
On multi-lane roadways divided by a median:
- Drivers following the bus must stop.
- Drivers do not need to stop if they are traveling in the opposite direction of the bus on a multi-lane highway that is divided by a physical barrier such as a grassy or paved median strip.
- Cars traveling in the opposite direction of the bus on a physically divided highway may proceed with caution.
When following or approaching a school bus, be prepared to stop.
- Flashing yellow lights on the bus are activated 100 to 300 feet before the bus is going to stop to load or unload children.
- Drivers must stop and remain stopped when the red lights flash. Drivers should not proceed until the flashing red lights are turned off, or the bus begins to move.
School Bus Safety Tips
- 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 when it has stopped to load or unload students.
- Always ensure that any mask or face shield you wear in public does not prevent you from maintaining a clear line of sight when operating a motor vehicle or walking near moving vehicles.
- Don't expect children to behave as you would when entering or exiting a bus. Always maintain a safe distance from school buses.
Additional school bus safety tips for motorists:
- Always stop for pedestrians.
- Obey traffic signs, signals, and markings.
- Observe posted speed limits. Speeding only makes it more difficult to stop for pedestrians.
- Keep your eyes on the road. It's illegal to use a phone or text while driving.
- When a school bus stops and the flashing red lights go on, drivers in BOTH directions are required to stop. This is the most dangerous time as children are getting on or off the bus.
It is against the law to pass a stopped school bus with its flashing red lights activated.
Safety Tips for Students:
- Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks whenever possible.
- Press the pedestrian signal button and wait for the walk signal.
- Always stop at the curb and look left, right, and left before crossing a street.
- Watch for cars turning in or leaving driveways.
- Walk, don't run across the street.
- Wear light or bright-colored clothing.
- Pay attention and take off headphones while walking. Do not text or play games.
The following information is provided for assistance.
To speak to a representative about a violation, contact the AlertBus Customer Contact Center toll-free support line at 1-877-504-7080.
- The Contact Center is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- English, Spanish, and French-speaking customer service agents are available to address inquiries.
- To expedite our service to you, please have your Citation Number ready when you call.
To view the violation video evidence online or to pay a violation by credit card, visit www.alertbus.com and enter the following information: Your citation number (example: MD-777777, including the dash), and vehicle license plate information (no dashes or spaces), as listed on your citation.
Contact the Anne Arundel County District Court for information on trial dates or case status.