Being a good driver doesn't only help keep the roads safer, but it can also help motorists get affordable car insurance in Maryland, one of the busier states in the country for heavy volume on the roads. However, it's this congestion and on-the-go lifestyle that has more drivers not only adversely affecting what they pay in coverage, but also the physical well-being of pedestrians, a new report suggests.
When school bus drivers apply the brakes, and those old familiar "stop" arms swing out, trailing motorists know it's time to hit the brakes. Lately, however, motorists in Maryland are flouting this rule of the road. According to a recent observation period launched by the Maryland State Department of Education, over 4,300 motorists in a 24-hour period did not stop for school buses when students were getting on or off. That's up from roughly 2,800 that happened in a single day last year, a separate study at the time found.
Karen B. Salmon, Maryland's Superintendent of Schools, indicated that whether the uptick in violations stems from ignorance or recklessness, the effect is the same.
"It is illegal to pass a bus with its stop arm extended and its lights flashing," Salmon warned. "It is clear that we have more to do as we all work to keep students out of harm's way."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, municipalities with the largest routes were also those where violations occurred with the highest degree of regularity, the report found. For instance, in Baltimore County, there were slightly over 1,000 unlawful passings recorded, followed by 999 in Montgomery County. On the plus side, several counties did not have any violations, those being Caroline, Talbot, Somerset, and Dorchester.
Failing to stop for school buses nationwide issue
Illegally passing stopped school buses is hardly a safety issue unique to Little America. In Chelsea, Massachusetts – approximately 30 minutes north of Boston – a 6-year-old child was injured after a trailing motorist drove around a stopped school bus, hitting the boy as he was about to board, local Fox affiliate WFXT reported. Fortunately, the boy's injuries were mostly superficial.
It's also been an issue in Georgia. According to local authorities, in Hamilton County alone, roughly 200 people per day are cited for not stopping when buses do, WDEF reported.
For the most part, these violations don't result in injuries, but on average, eight children are killed each year when motorists fail to obey school bus stops, according to CBS News.
Officials increasing enforcement, penalties
To make the roads safer, traffic enforcement officers are maintaining more of a presence on the nation's highways. Additionally, school buses are being mounted with surveillance cameras to catch drivers who ignore stop signs. Over a dozen states have laws on the books that allow for these installations, CBS News reported.
Maryland is one such state, and when caught by recording devices, violators receive a costly fine of $125.
"Every occasion of illegal passing is a potentially life-altering tragedy for a student and their family," Todd Watkins, Montgomery County Public Schools Director of Transportation, told the Washington Post.
Maryland auto insurance rates are affordable when drivers steer clear of violations, but when their behaviors result in fines, they can feel the effects for awhile. In other words, unlike a ticket, where the fee is a one-time payment, insurance rates can increase for an extended period, sometimes for several years.
In short, no matter where you live, not yielding to school buses can bring your insurance savings to a grinding halt.