BETHESDA, Md. — Brian Moxley has been driving buses in Montgomery County for 30 years. He says the kids are what keep him coming back year after year.
"The kids are great. They're the best part about driving the school bus," said Moxley.
Year after year, those kids have become his family. That's why it's hard for him to understand why people keep putting his students' safety at risk.
Last year, in Montgomery County, more than 54,000 drivers were caught flying past buses with stop signs extended and flashing lights. This school year, every single school bus in the county will be equipped with safety cameras.
Friday, the Montgomery County Police Department issued a reminder to drivers to be vigilant and pay attention to school buses on the road. Of those 54,000 times a driver was caught last year, there were many close calls where students could have been seriously hurt. In one instance, a driver hit a teen who was walking in the crosswalk. The driver ignored the extended stop sign of the bus and kept driving. The teen is lucky to be alive. She was uninjured because the backpack broke her fall and kept her head from hitting the pavement.
Ralph Schwartzback has been a driver in the county for 25 years. When he heard about the student being hit, it was hard for him.
"You could have killed that child. That's what could happen. What can you say to somebody like that? I'm looking at my precious cargo and it angers me," he said.
Drivers who are caught on camera receive a civil citation starting at $250. Those penalties can go up to $500.
Drivers are required to stop in both directions for any school bus with it’s lights on and stop sign extended who is in the process of picking up or dropping off children. If there is no median, you are required to stop for the buses even if you are in the opposite lanes of traffic.
If there is a physical median between a car and the school bus you are not required to stop, however, police advice you slow down before passing.
For the bus drivers who see the close calls each day, they have a simple message for drivers.
Relax, slow down. You don't want to hit somebody else's baby out there. Just take it easy guys, you'll get there, you'll get to work eventually," said Moxley.
The number of tickets are increasing because the number of cameras on buses are increasing. According to the Montgomery County Police Department, 449 school bus violations were recorded by bus cameras on the first two days of school this year.
Officials said if this trend continues, there will be approximately 40,000 camera bus tickets issued in Montgomery County for the current school year.
Overall, they say the program is working because the per bus rate being passed is decreasing.