The new school year has begun, and for most families was a time of excitement, anticipation, and…yes, maybe even a little bit of anxiety. However, for families in Montgomery County right now, back to school has turned into a major source of concern after a fourth-grade student at Watkins Mill Elementary School was struck by a car that sped around a stopped school bus that was letting students off.
Fourth-Grade Student Suffers Serious Injuries in Accident
In early September, the victim was disembarking her school bus, which was fully stopped with its STOP arm out near the intersection of Office Park Drive and Walkers Choice Road in Montgomery Village, according to witnesses. At that point, a driver chose to speed around the bus rather than wait, striking the 9-year-old student, who was transported to a local hospital. The girl was seriously hurt, but her injuries were not considered to be life-threatening. To make matters even worse, several students on the bus witnessed the entire episode unfold.
Maryland’s School Bus Law Is Not Being Followed
The law in Maryland requires drivers in both directions to stop completely when school buses have their lights flashing and STOP arm extended (except for multi-lane highways divided by a median strip, in which case drivers from the opposing direction are not required to stop but to proceed with caution. The driver in this instance clearly broke the law, and criminal charges were pending in the immediate aftermath of the accident as the crash was still under investigation.
Offenders who pass a stopped school bus automatically receive a $250 fine from the camera built into the bus–however, if a police officer issues the citation, the fine may be even higher, and the driver could receive points on their driver’s license.
School Bus Citations Are Not Decreasing
In 2021, an alarming 36,717 citations were issued in Maryland for passing a stopped school bus. Through August of 2022, 32,311 had been issued. At that rate, more than 48,000 citations for passing a stopped school bus will be issued by the end of this year–an absolutely mind-boggling number and disturbing increase.
Are the few seconds that might be saved by passing a stopped school bus worth the chance of injuring, or even killing, a child? Or, at the very least, being assessed a hefty fine and maybe more? Common sense would say no, but nearly 50,000 drivers in Maryland this year seem to disagree.
What to Do If a Loved One Is Struck Around A School Bus
If your child is the victim of an accident when getting off the school bus and has been struck by a moving vehicle, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention. Try to get the name and insurance information of the driver and make sure to file a police report. Avoid dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance company on your own without the guidance of our legal experts. Worry about the health and well-being of your child–the personal injury lawyers at The Lapidus Law Firm will handle the rest. Call us at (301) 852-7500 for your free, no-obligation consultation. We are ready to serve you and hold reckless, negligent drivers accountable for their actions. And remember, we are committed to making justice work for you.
Written by Larry Lapidus