School bus cameras issuing citations for illegal passing -- Gazette.Net


Ten drivers who illegally passed a Montgomery County school bus in January were caught in the act by a new camera system.

Since Jan. 2, five cameras on Montgomery County Public Schools buses have issued 10 citations, at $125 each, to drivers who passed a stopped bus while its stop arm was extended with flashing red lights, said Cpl. Rebecca Innocenti, a spokeswoman for county police.

The cameras automatically record vehicles that a bus illegally.

If an officer catches a motorist passing a stopped school bus, she said, the citation would be steeper: $570 and 3 points on their license.

Innocenti said the tickets were issued on the following streets: Ridge Road in Damascus; Fairland Road in Silver Spring; West Lake Drive and Tuckerman Lane in Rockville; West Lake Drive and Tuckerman Lane in Bethesda; and Muddy Branch Road and East Deer Park Drive in Gaithersburg.

The data from the bus cameras will help police further understand which areas in the county are the most problematic when it comes to this type of violations, Innocenti said.

The cameras help police catch drivers whom they might not see or who would be difficult to stop based on the topography of the road, Innocenti said.

“It certainly assists patrol officers’ efforts to enforce the law,” she said.

The program currently has 10 cameras — five cameras were recently added but were not issuing citations.

Innocenti said 15 more cameras will be installed by the end of February on school buses that run routes with the most passing incidents. That will bring the total number of school buses equipped with the cameras to 25.

Wiring for the cameras will be installed on 75 more buses so the cameras can be swapped among the buses.

The county also has the ability to purchase up to 75 more cameras during its contract, according to an Oct. 22 memo from Montgomery County Council staff.

The County Council enacted a law in March 2012 that enables police to install and operate cameras on school buses to catch drivers who pass the vehicles when they are stopped and operating their flashing red lights.

Ultimately, Innocenti said, the goal goes beyond catching scofflaws.

“Our goal is for people to be informed about the law and know the law and stop for stopped school buses,” she said.