TOWSON, Md. — Baltimore County police are sharing a friendly reminder about what can happen if drivers pass a school bus when it's stopped to pick up students.
Almost 900 school buses will be on the road in Baltimore County come Tuesday, with more than 70,000 students on board.
"We will be looking for drivers that are not paying attention to school buses, or who are just blatantly ignoring the laws and going around school buses," Baltimore County police Officer Jen Peach said.
Police are not the only ones concerned.
"It makes me cringe," said Thomas Jones, a parent. "The last thing that any of us want is for a child to come off the bus and to get hit by a car, particularly, if a car is not doing the speed limit."
Drivers caught breaking the law can expect to pay a $570 fine and get three points on their driving record for passing a school bus with its flashing lights activated. Drivers who stop and then continue around school buses face a $570 fine and a two-point penalty.
"We need to be paying more attention to our surroundings," Peach said.
Police said officers will be out on the first day of school in marked and unmarked vehicles. A growing number of traffic cameras are also now in place in school zones.
Police would also like to remind parents of students who walk to school to tell them to look before they cross the street.
More School Safety Tips:
Wait For School Buses
The Baltimore County Police Department reminds all drivers to stop when the lights on school buses are flashing.
Maryland law states that vehicles must come to a complete stop on both sides of the street if there is no physical divider or barrier. Drivers who pass the bus before all lights have ceased flashing may face the following consequences:
- Drivers who pass a school bus while the lights are flashing will receive a citation that carries a maximum payable fine of $570 and a three-point penalty.
- Drivers who stop but then proceed while the lights are flashing will receive a citation that carries a maximum payable fine of $570 and a two-point penalty.
- Drivers who contribute to an accident when they fail to stop for a school bus while the lights are flashing may face additional penalties.
Children are not always aware of their surroundings and assume that drivers will stop for them. Youngsters also dart into the road without looking first for traffic. Allow room for the frequent stops that happen during the morning pick up and the afternoon drop off.
Educate Your Children About School Safety
Baltimore County Police remind parents, guardians and children about school safety. Although the Police Department educates children in school on stranger danger, parents can also provide guidance on safety.
- Be aware of putting your child's name on anything that is readily visible. This might allow an abductor to get on a "first name" basis with your child and develop a sense of trust.
- Walk the route to and from school with your children, pointing out safe places to go if they are being followed or need help.
- Talk to your children about strangers approaching them and some of the ploys they might use. Stress to them that adults shouldn't need a child's help to find a puppy or get directions; they should ask another adult for that information.
- Teach your children that it is okay to say "no." Tell them to trust their instincts.
- Remind your children never to give the impression they are home alone if strangers telephone or come to the door. Never open the door for a stranger. Teach them about dialing 911.
- Baltimore County Public Schools have several different emergency procedures that may be implemented in the event of an emergency situation. Learn the difference between the two most frequently used procedures: Alert Status and Lockdown.
Load Up The Kids And Lock Up The House
The Baltimore County Police Department encourages everyone to establish the habit of basic security when leaving the house. Basic crime prevention measures can make it difficult for a burglar to enter your home.
- Lock your windows and doors before you walk or load the kids up for the drive to the bus stop or school. Don't give a burglar a perfect opportunity.
- Add a security checklist to your rush hour routine. Parents or daycare providers can provide a learning experience for children. Depending on the age or ages of the children, give them a task that relates to their security. Older children can check and lock windows, while younger ones can make sure the doors are locked behind you when you leave.
- Keep an eye out for strangers who seem to be lurking on your street with no real purpose. Watch for cars driving slowly through the neighborhood. They might be sizing up potential targets. Don't hesitate to call 911 if something concerns you. Provide a basic description of the individual or car; a tag number is especially helpful to police.
- Make life for criminals difficult. Burglars are opportunists who work during the day and night. In fact, many burglars strike during daylight hours when they believe all the occupants of the house may be at school or work. Remember to keep your home secure at all times.