Craig Rice and Daughter Join County Officials in Urging Drivers to Stop for School Buses
It was two years ago, County Councilmember and Germantown resident Craig Rice had dropped his then third-grade daughter off at the bus stop at Richter Farm Road and Rockingham Road in Germantown. As Caelyn Rice ran toward the bus something made her stop, it was a white sedan, and it was moving fast — too fast. It flew past the stopped school bus and would have hit young Caelyn had she not been paying attention.
“As I dropped Caelyn off at her bus stop,” said Rice, “a car passed through the school bus stop arm and almost hit her. Fortunately, she was able to remember to make sure there you stop and look both ways, even when the school bus arm out and lights are activated. As a parent, I certainly understand what is at stake. This is about our safety.”
Caelyn Rice, who is now a rising fifth grader at Matsunaga Elementary School in Germantown said, “I saw this car speeding down the road. I didn’t know what he was doing. I thought he was going to stop, but he didn’t, and the stop sign was out. I was thinking is this guy going to stop or is he going to hit me. I didn’t know what was going on. It was kind of a scary experience.”
Thankfully nobody was injured in this instance, but this instance of drivers passing school buses happens far too often in Montgomery County, and MCPD and MCPS have teamed up with to work with FXS Company to end it. FXS Company specializes in producing a comprehensive video and audio system designed to assist in the enforcement of overtaking and passing stopped school buses as well as enhancing the safety of the occupants of school buses.
"As our students head back to school next week, getting them to and from school safely is paramount," said Councilmember Rice. "I am very pleased that our long-term goal is to install cameras on all of our school buses. It's not about generating revenue; it's about obeying the law. If you see a school bus stop arm out, just stop. The safety of our kids is first and foremost."
As many folks are thinking of Summer’s last hurrah the weekend before school starts on Monday, August 29 the Montgomery County Police Department and Montgomery County Public Schools want to remind every one of the dangers that can be associated with the excitement of a new school year as MCPS begins bussing 159,000 students to and from school every day.
Officials from County government, the school system, and the Montgomery County Police Department joined forces at the Lakelands Park Middle School in Gaithersburg to provide critical back-to-school safety information.
Rice was joined by new Superintendent of Schools Jack R. Smith, Board of Education President Michael Durso, and Director of the MCPD Traffic Division Captain Tom Didone, Director of MCPS Department of Transportation Todd Watkins, and school bus driver Jennifer Velasquez.
“The start of the school year is just a few days away,” said Michael Durso, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “For far too long, we have seen many drivers overlook our students who ride buses by speeding past stopped school buses. As a community, we must take all the steps we can to keep them safe.”
“Our mission is to ensure that all students are learning in our 204 schools. But first, they have to safely make it to our schools. The responsibility for their safety belongs to all of us in this county,” said Smith. “The very first thing we have to pay attention to is student safety so that our core mission of teaching and learning can be realized for every single student. It is the responsibility of all of our one million-plus citizens if they are drivers it is absolutely critical that the 159,000 students and the additional 60,000 students that ride their bike or walk to school are safe every day.”
On January 2, 2014, Montgomery County began the implementation of an automated school bus camera enforcement program with 25 came