Protecting students by keeping bus stops safe.

Here’s my testimony about the need to make the school bus fine permanent. It passed out of the Environment and Transportation Committee almost unanimously!

Chairman Barve, Vice-chair Stein and Members of the House Environment and Transportation Committee:

Today, I ask you to consider a very important matter that could have great impact on the safety of Maryland’s children. Under the current law, a vehicle caught on camera passing a stopped school bus will be fined $250. On June 30, however, this law will expire and school children will be vulnerable yet again.

For background, the fine was $125 and it was found to not be a significant deterrent. In 2017, the General Assembly voted to double this fine, telling drivers to think twice before speeding past a stopped bus. The two year provision is near it’s sunset, and I would urge the committee not to go back to more unsafe times.

This new fine is working. According to data provided by the District Court, related citations from across the state have dropped about 15% since the new fine was put in place. In Baltimore County alone, the number of citations was cut in half.

More and more school buses are outfitted with cameras to assist in monitoring safety, so we should make use of the investment our state has already made. After equipping school buses with these tools, it would be tragically wasteful to disregard them.

It is imperative that we do all we can to keep our children safe, especially when sending them off to school. School age children of this generation have so many issues to navigate, and their parents already have enough to worry about. Getting an education should be the safest part of a students day, whether they are in the classroom or simply on their way.

I urge the committee to vote favorably on this bill.

Delegate Lesley Lopez