Frederick administration reviews back to school safety

Buses could be fitted with stop arm cameras

Anticipating Wednesday’s first day of school, Frederick County Public Schools administration went over school traffic safety with area law enforcement before a news conference Monday morning.

Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Millholland said that many drivers tend to forget traffic regulation code when it comes to school buses. Not only are drivers traveling behind buses required to stop when the bus stops, cars approaching a bus from the opposite direction are also required to stop. Only cars traveling on the opposite side of a physical barrier like a concrete median or guardrail aren’t required to stop when a bus stops.

“If it’s a solid piece of pavement, you have to stop,” said Lt. Warren Gosnell, head of the Sheriff’s Office’s traffic division.

Steve Edwards, coordinator of policy and communications, said drivers should also remember to exercise caution while on school parking lots and roadways, including parents dropping off or picking up their children. Superintendent David Sovine said volunteers will be greeting and guiding elementary school students on their first day back.

With three additional school resource officers from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Edwards said all the district’s high schools and middle schools will have an assigned officer this year. Students will come home from their first day with a school emergency guide for parents to review, and they’re encouraged to voice concerns as part of the district’s Speak Up, Stay Safe initiative.

The district is also looking to obtain Redflex stop arm cameras for all its buses. Using those cameras requires a county ordinance, which is awaiting a public hearing before it would be adopted.

Assistant Superintendent for Administration Al Orndorff said cameras attached to each bus in two locations would record footage across five lanes of traffic starting a few seconds before the stop arm is extended. The footage and data would then be processed, and possible violations would be sent to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office to view and decide whether to issue a summons.

Drivers found in violation would have to pay $250 in civil penalties. John Grubbs, director of transportation for the district, said those citation fines go toward the cost of the system. There would be no upfront costs for implementing and using the Redflex cameras, and the district has already tested two buses with pilot cameras.

Sovine said the stop arm camera ordinance is progressing well.

“Once approved, there will be a focus on … increasing community awareness,” he said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com

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