After months of worrying while walking his kids to the school bus stop located on Second Avenue and Cameron Street, a Silver Spring father of two took matters — and a video camera — into his own hands Tuesday morning.
Parents have grown increasingly disturbed by drivers violating the school bus stop sign — while their children come on and off the bus, according to Andrew Cohen, the 37 year-old resident who took the video.
There needs to be more respect for the school bus stop sign, Cohen said.
“What happens when a kid gets off the bus, has to cross the street and someone blows the stop sign and hits the kid? No one wants to have to deal with that,” Cohen said.
This is an issue that Montgomery County officials are well aware of. In November 2011, then County Council President Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) proposed Bill 37-11. The legislation would install cameras on over 1,200 county school buses to catch offending drivers and be operated under the authority of Chief of Police J. Thomas Manger. Violators would be fined up to $250 dollars for the civil offense.
Cohen said this proposed legislation isn’t enough because there is already a law on the books that fines drivers up to $570 and adds two-points to their licenses. Yet many drivers are still failing to stop at the Second Avenue intersection.
A survey conducted by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) back in February of 2011 showed how prevalent the issue is throughout the state.
It recorded 7,028 statewide drivers who violated the school bus stop sign, according to the survey. About 1,645 of the violators were from Montgomery County.
This isn’t an issue the county takes lightly, County Council President Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) said.
“School children need the protection that a stop sign on a school bus is intended to create and, unfortunately, there is way too much evidence that the stop sign is ignored,” Berliner added.
Berliner admitted that the law is hard to enforce without direct police supervision.
“In the absence of cameras, it’s very difficult for us to make sure this important law is being honored,” he added.
When the program will begin and how much it will cost has yet to be determined.
The Montgomery County Council Public Safety Committee is scheduled to address Bill 37-11 on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 9:30 a.m. in the Council Office Building located in Rockville.