A Maryland law that allows school districts to install bus cameras to capture drivers illegally passing a stopped bus could soon be enforced in Anne Arundel County.
The law could hold people accountable, said Stefanie Johnson, a mother of a Severna Park High student who was hit by a driver after getting off the school bus.
“Anything that helps with enforcement is a huge win for students, for parents — for everyone,” Johnson said.
In October, Allie Johnson exited the bus and was struck by a vehicle. Since then, Stefanie Johnson said it has been a slow and long process of recovery. Allie attempted to go back to school but due to constant headaches has received schooling through a home health program.
Johnson said the proposed legislation could make drivers think twice before driving passed a stopped school bus.
At Wednesday’s school board meeting, Anne Arundel Public School officials talked about supporting the County Council bill that would authorize installing cameras on school bus stop arms.
The bill was introduced by Jan. 6, and if adopted, it would go into effect 45 days after it has been signed, said Alex Szachnowicz, county schools chief operating officer. It would be a collaborative effort with Anne Arundel Police Department, the schools and the chosen vendor, he said.
In 2019, there were more than 3,000 bus stop violations in Maryland, and 500 of these violations happened in the county, as first reported by WBALTV.
Other districts like Montgomery and Howard counties have passed legislation. Anne Arundel County currently has officers patrolling and stopping drivers when they witness the infraction.
“We got 600 buses on the roads and the police department is stretched...they can’t be out there, everywhere, at all times,” Szachnowicz said at the board meeting.
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Johnson said most of her focus is on her daughter’s recovery. Allie, a sophomore, still wants to go to school, said her mother.
Johnson urged other drivers to think about the consequences before passing a stopped school bus while it lets off school children.
“It is not worth the 30 seconds you may have saved by going past,” she said.
Drivers who do not stop at the flashing red lights of a school bus can receive traffic charges, and depending on the incident, can be charged with negligent or reckless driving, said Anne Arundel County Police spokeswoman Sgt. Jacklyn Davis.
Johnson worked with the assistant state’s attorney to review her daughter’s case, she said. Since the incident, the driver who struck Allie Johnson, Wayne Waskey, has received updated charges.
The six citations include negligent and reckless driving, according to the state’s attorney office.