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School Bus Cameras One Step Closer In Montgomery County

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School buses in Montgomery County may soon be equipped with cameras to catch illegal passers.
Basheer Tome: http://www.flickr.com/photos/basheertome/4597447306/
School buses in Montgomery County may soon be equipped with cameras to catch illegal passers.

Council members in Montgomery County are taking another step toward installing cameras on school buses that would will look for drivers who pass stopped buses loading or unloading students.

The council's public safety committee gave its unanimous recommendation in favor of the cameras, which would be installed on the stop signs that extend out from school buses when they stop to pick up or drop off children.

Last year, the General Assembly approved a measured allowing localities to install the cameras -- this following a survey by the State Department of Education to determine how serious the problem was. More than 7,000 violations were found statewide in that one day. Montgomery County trailed only Baltimore County in the state in the number of violators.

Drivers caught by the cameras would face fines of up to $250, but unlike the speed and red-light cameras, those caught would be sent a link to actually see a video of their alleged offense, which they could then use to determine whether they want to fight the fine in court. A study by council staff showed it's unlikely that the cameras would collect enough money from fines to pay for their installation, which is okay with councilman Phil Andrews.

"The goal here is to change the dangerous behavior by a some vehicle operators in the county," says Andrews. "To get them to take it more seriously. Because it is a very serious safety violation to drive past a school bus that is dropping off or picking up school children."

The committee's recommendation means the bill now goes to the full council for review. Since seven of the nine council members have co-sponsored the measure, its passage is all but assured when a vote is taken, which could happen as early as next week.

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