Officials say they’re hoping to double fines for drivers passing school buses in Montgomery County, where ticketing has been rampant.
Since late January, 25 Montgomery County school buses have been equipped with cameras to catch drivers who pass the buses when the stop sign arm is extended and the flashing lights are on. According to police, more than 730 people have been ticketed in the county.
“We’ve got a lot of violations. Other jurisdictions who put the cameras on the buses, they got a low number [of violations],” Montgomery County Chief of Police Thomas Manger said.
In comparison during a similar amount of time, Washington County has 10 cameras and 112 tickets; Frederick County has 31 cameras and four tickets and Prince George’s County (which has had 20 cameras over two months) has issued a single ticket.
“We’re off the charts compared to neighboring jurisdictions,” Montgomery County Council President Craig Rice said. “The reality is that we’re still uncovering a tremendous problem.”
He admits some of the violations could be due to confusion surrounding the law, which varies especially along four-lane streets like River Road with different rules for raised and painted medians.
“There’s a lot of impatient drivers out there. There’s a lot of drivers out there that are unsure about the law. If all there is is a painted line down the middle of a four-lane highway, you cannot pass either direction,” Manger said.
The fine for getting caught is $125, which could soon double.
“We’d like to go up to $250. I have since sent a letter to our chief judge asking for that ability,” Rice said.
Ten more Montgomery County school buses have been outfitted with cameras, and more are possible.