- Anne Arundel County Public Schools
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Bus Camera Bill a Significant Step for Student Safety
Posted by George Arlotto on 1/22/2020
Every day across our county, more than 60,000 students board school buses to be transported to and from their schools. Thousands more utilize buses to get to our Centers of Applied Technology or go on field trips or to athletic events.
Over the course of the school year, approximately 700 buses will travel nearly 10 million miles to ferry Anne Arundel County Public Schools students to one destination or another. The vehicles are a safe and efficient way to transport about three-quarters of our student population, but just outside them lurks a very real danger.
Motorists – whether impatient, distracted, unaware, or uncaring – are roaring past stopped school buses, an action that is illegal in every state in the nation, at an alarming rate. A one-day survey conducted by school bus drivers for the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services last May reported that 95,319 vehicles passed buses illegally. In a 180-day school year, that sampling equates to more than 17 million vehicles operating in a way that could maim or kill children.
The bigger issue? The problem is getting worse.
Legislation now before the County Council represents an opportunity to take a significant step forward to enhance the safety of our students, our bus drivers, and every motorist on roads throughout the county. Bill 1-20, which has the support of County Executive Steuart Pittman and Police Chief Timothy Altomare, authorizes the use of monitoring cameras on school buses. It is an initiative our team has discussed with county officials for some time and one which members of our Board of Education firmly support.
The bill’s passage would allow our school system to enter into a contract with a vendor to install the cameras and authorize police to view recorded footage and issue citations to those who violate the law and endanger the lives of students and others with their irresponsible actions.
State law allows for local governments to establish such procedures, but each jurisdiction must pass its own legislation. Similar arrangements exist in other school systems around the nation and in Maryland. Montgomery County, for example, has cameras on its buses and both Howard and Queen Anne’s counties recently passed legislation to do the same.
Some vendors install cameras at no cost to the school system in exchange for a percentage of revenue from fines levied against violators. Should this legislation pass and we procure such a contract, the initiative would come at virtually no cost to our school system or the County.
The first step, however, is the passage of Bill 1-20. It is common-sense legislation which creates a safer environment for our students at what may well be little to no cost to our school system or the County.
Dr. George Arlotto is Superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.