Montgomery County Government, Police and Public Schools are teaming up to educate drivers about the importance of complying with Maryland laws pertaining to stopped school buses with activated flashing lights and stop arms. This week, a new easy-viewing informational outreach campaign, #PassItOn, is being launched through social media.
Each day a new video message will be tweeted multiple times supporting the campaign. Recipients are encouraged to view them, and then just like with a good deed, pay it forward – Retweet them. The goal is to reach as many people (motorists) as possible. Media outlets and other organizations are encouraged to add these videos to their websites.
A school bus with lights flashing and stop arm out is hard to miss. Yet drivers continue to either stop for a moment and then proceed, or totally ignore the stop sign and signal and drive right by. Our school-bus-riding-children should not have to worry about that kind of danger. It’s a serious problem, but one that community members can help solve by taking an active role in getting the information out.
Video topics include:
- Day 1 – “Back to School & Back to the Problem” identifies the three types of people who are prone to commit this type of violation with comments from MCPD Traffic Division Director Tom Didone and Police Chief Tom Manger.
- Day 2 – “When to Put the Brakes On” created by the County Cable Montgomery production staff, this user-friendly informational message explains the laws. It will be tweeted out in a 2-minute package, but it is also available in an 11-minute version.
- Day 3 – “The Short Arm of the Law” created by MCPS producer Todd Hochkeppel, is a clever public service announcement (PSA) meant to grab drivers’ attention. This PSA, in 30-second and 60-second lengths, is available in English and Spanish on YouTube. It is also available in professional broadcast standard formats for use by any media outlet. A link to download for broadcast or webcast will be provided after the Day 3 social media release.
- Day 4 – “New Cop in Town” created by MCM Cable (Montgomery Community Media) is a behind-the-scenes look at how the Montgomery County Public School PSA was created, including a special interview with its star performer.
- Day 5 – “We’ve Said it Before and We’ll Say it Again” highlights County government, school and law enforcement officials speaking out about the problem and why it must be stopped.
All of these short, viewer-friendly videos will be available on Playlist, with a link provided at the end of the week.
It’s the Law:
When approaching a stopped school bus with activated flashing red lights, Maryland law requires that motorists traveling in the same direction as the bus must stop. The law also requires that motorists approaching the bus from the opposite direction must stop UNLESS there is a physical barrier, such as a median.
Currently, there are 25 school bus cameras strategically deployed throughout the County that record vehicles that pass stopped school buses with activated flashing red lights. Those cameras will eventually be deployed on up to 100 buses. These violations are reviewed by the police department’s Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit and citations are mailed to the registered owner. The camera-generated fine is $125. No points are associated with a citation issued through this program. A citation for the same offense issued by a police officer is $570 and three points on the license.
There were 713 violations recorded last school semester, despite an active public education campaign to make sure that drivers understood the laws pertaining to stopping for school buses. County government, law enforcement and school officials are hoping that releasing information through a one-week social media push will get this important safety message out to more motorists in our County and beyond.
Take a few minutes each day this week to watch and listen to a short video (#PassItOn) and then Retweet it. Please don’t pass a stopped school bus, but please do help pass these important safety messages on to help keep our kids safe!