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The Tentacle


August 27, 2012

Are studentsí parents really the problem?

Jill King

According to a Maryland Department of Education study, there were 7,000 incidents in Maryland in 2010 in which school buses were passed by vehicles when they were stopped to pick up – or let off – children.

 

Xerox’s CrossSafeTM, through contract and legislation, has become partner with the Frederick County Sheriff's Department to keep children safe from these drivers. According to many reports, once instance is too many.

 

As school starts today in Frederick County, there will be some – but not all – buses equipped with cameras; new Maryland State legislative decisions has made this possible in an effort to deter vehicles from breaking this law. Yes, the term vehicle was intentional.

 

Once the photographs are reviewed by Xerox, the owner of the cameras, and then by the Sheriff's Department, if found in violation, the vehicle's owner will receive a $125 fine.

 

Can a car now defend itself in court, from a camera? Although a silly question, this is basically what it is. When the right to due process is thrown out and a court appearance will render nothing but the initial fine, our judicial process has been compromised.

 

The claim is that one incident is too many. On the other hand, this is another way of curving behavior through fines – not for the driver, but the owner of the vehicle whose picture was taken. Burrhus Frederic Skinner would be proud; someone applied his theory to legislature.

 

Here we go again. "It is for the children." The only problem is that now Republicans are writing and voting for more rules and regulations in Maryland, instead of working to remove the onerous ones.

 

How can we go wrong when Xerox is fronting all costs and is not accepting tax dollars?

 

Xerox will get $125 for each citation for the first 4000 found to be in violation and then $91 thereafter, with the remainder going to the Sheriff's Department.

 

These bus cameras will cost man hours from the Sheriff's Department, for many years before it sees one dime; then they will only see $34 per ticket, which will not be enough to make up for the backlog of unfunded payments for these man hours. Since they are the last to see it, costs related to issuing the ticket are also footed by taxpayers.

 

It took a while to figure out how this was going to cost the taxpayers, because "all that glitters is not gold." This one sounded as if there were some kind of contingency requirement.

 

There it is; the county taxpayers will be eating the Sheriff’s Department hourly costs that this law/regulation will use, taking officers off of the street to accomplish it.

 

As a rule, the kudos comes from the fact that this is going to stop a child from being struck by a moving vehicle. This is absolutely not true, just like stop signs don't always force people to stop. It only provides evidence of the vehicle that passed the school bus and not who was driving said vehicle. If a hit and run accident occurs, how would they charge the car, with no physical description of the driver?

 

Cpl. Jennifer Bailey, of the Sheriff's Department, stated that "if an officer witnesses a driver illegally passing a school bus, the driver receives a $570 citation and it carries a three-point penalty on the violator's driver’s license."

 

In this case, the actual person driving is going to get the ticket. They will receive due process and they will not have their vehicle charged and found guilty.

 

Many children walk to school. There is nothing in writing that offers protections for these children, who walk in all weather, confront perverts, are bullied or face cars that will not allow them to cross the street in their up to 2-mile trip to the learning center.

 

In this case the liability shifts to the parent, who is typically working and/or unable to provide transportation.

 

About a year ago, buses were provided to children because they lived in a development where children were not allowed by parents to walk the under the less than 1.5 miles to an elementary school. Parents were creating a traffic issue, so the resolution was to spend tax dollars to curve their behavior.

 

An adult man was hit by a car in Urbana while in a crosswalk, as he was going to pick up his child.

 

There have been several reports of children being confronted by strangers trying to pick them up on their way to or from school. Some of these “adults” were attempting to assault them.

 

In many instances, children walk without parents. Middle and high school children typically don't want an adult with them. Using a buddy system works, although some streets only have one or two children residing on them and at some point they are left to walk alone.

 

Bullies are a dime-a-dozen; and there is no rule on the books that would protect a child, once leaving the bus stop, or when walking to school based on the school system’s decision on which children will have to walk to school or be transported privately.

 

One incident in Frederick City required medical intervention as a teenager who was walking home was shot.

 

There is no advocacy group for walkers, but if buses are a mode of transportation, then walking and bicycling is also; yet there is no liability to the school if a bike disappears, or is tampered with, or is stolen while on school property, or any other infraction that can potentially happen.

 

It is not my belief that we can protect children from all of the ills of society, and in no way will we ever be able to protect them each step of the way.

 

The point here is that legislators and the Frederick County Board of Education are picking winners and losers and costing the taxpayers dearly, in their trek "for the children."

 

How can anyone say parents need to parent, when legislators and elected officials are admitting that adults are a big part of the problem?

 

Retraining my brain for the future, conferring with my past...

 

retrainbrain@hotmail.com

 



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