Police cracking down on drivers passing buses

Camera system approved for Frederick buses

Area police will be watching for drivers who don’t stop for school buses.

The Woodstock Police Department has reported an influx of calls concerning vehicles that fail to stop on the southern end of Main Street for school buses dropping off or picking up students.

Police Chief Eric Reiley said even though students don’t necessarily cross the street in that area, drivers aren’t exempt from obeying state law. Passing a school bus that is stopped with its lights flashing constitutes reckless driving. Only drivers who are traveling on the opposite side of a roadway separated by a physical barrier or unpaved area are not required to stop for buses.

“I think it’s just a lack of awareness, just because the road is so wide,” he said. “I don’t know that they realize that you do have to stop.”

He said officers will be stationed near the problem area and on the lookout for violations.

Lt. Charles Bockey, of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, said that he isn’t aware of any issues with drivers not stopping for school buses so far this year.

Frederick County school buses now have the all-clear to equip stop arm cameras, which would capture footage while a bus’ stop arm is extended. Violators, as determined through footage and information vetted through the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, would pay a $250 civil penalty to the county.

Last week, the Frederick County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an amendment to county code that authorizes such a system. Steve Edwards, Frederick County Schools’ coordinator of policy and communications, said the division has considered stop arm cameras for more than a year.

“Now that we’ve got that final ordinance amendment…we’re able to proceed now with that,” he said. “… There needed to be a change made in state code as well, which the General Assembly addressed this past legislative session in January.”

Edwards said the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office has been a partner with the schools in trying to equip buses with cameras. He said the division will start off by reaching an agreement with a stop-arm camera vendor.

Redflex Traffic Systems, one such vendor that the division has considered, offers its system to schools for no upfront cost. Documents from a meeting of the county’s Code & Ordinance Committee state that the vendor of the schools’ cameras would collect 75 percent of revenue generated from fines.

Frederick supervisors suggested that funds collected from the video monitoring system could be distributed to personnel at the county Sheriff’s Office or General District Court clerk’s office. The Board of Supervisors saved further discussion on that issue for a later date.

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

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