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Survey: More drivers ignoring school bus stop arm rules in Maryland

More drivers in Maryland blew by stopped school buses this spring compared with 2017, according to a new report from the state education department.

During a single day in April, Maryland school bus drivers counted 3,812 violations of school bus stop arm rules, according to the Maryland State Department of Education. Drivers are required to stop when a school bus is stopped with its lights flashing and stop arms extended while it is picking up students.

The April figures were higher than the number of violation recorded during a single day in 2017, when Maryland bus drivers observed 3,384 violations.

More than 80 percent of the state’s school bus drivers in 24 school systems participated in the April 2018 survey of driver behavior, which was meant to provide a snapshot of illegal activity on the roads surrounding school buses.

“Each Maryland driver must do their part to maintain safe driving practices and remember that the lives of our students are at stake,” state schools superintendent Karen Salmon said in a statement. “It is illegal to pass a bus with its stop arm extended and its lights flashing. Our newest survey results show there remains much room for improvement. One violation of the stop arm is one too many.”

School bus drivers in Montgomery County witnessed the most violations this year, with 1,038 recorded, followed by Baltimore County, where bus drivers saw 677 violations. Last year, Baltimore County topped the survey, followed by Montgomery County, according to the education department.

Anne Arundel County also saw violations in the triple-digits with 385 infractions — a decrease from 451 last year, according to the survey.

In Baltimore City, participating bus drivers documented 64 violations, down from the 152 violations recorded last year. Carroll County saw a slight dip in violations, too — 97, a drop from 106 in 2017, the survey said.

In contrast, Howard and Harford counties each saw a bump in violations in 2018. Harford County bus drivers documented 196 violations, up from 147 in 2017. And bus drivers in Howard County saw 290 violations, an increase of 101 from 189 last year.

The total number of violations this year was lower than in 2016, when 4,334 violations were recorded. And it represented about half the 7,011 violations recorded in 2011, when the survey started, according to the education department.

The results of the latest survey were released in conjunction with School Bus Safety Week, Oct. 22-26.

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