Ellicott City mothers concerned over children's safety at bus stops HOWARD COUNTY EDUCATION

October 05, 1992|By Frank Langfitt | Frank Langfitt,Staff Writer

If you find yourself driving near the intersection of Rogers Avenue and Oak West Drive in Ellicott City one morning and a school bus pulls onto the shoulder to pick up children, don't try to pass it.

You may not actually be breaking the law, but as far as the children's mothers are concerned, you might as well be. Each morning several stand on the corner trying to flag down speeding cars and recording license plates. The ones they write down they pass on to the county police.

"There are days when trucks and cars go right around [the bus] at 45 miles per hour," said Theresa Meisenbacher, whose five-year-old son, Daniel, takes the bus to St. John's Lane Elementary School.

Pamela Bianco, another concerned mother, says two to three vehicles pass the bus each morning. The number has gone as high as six, she said.

The women have complained to the county police and the school system and are frustrated. Technically, there isn't a lot that can be done.

Once the bus pulls off the roadway and onto the shoulder, motorists are not required by law to stop, said Dwight Stull, assistant supervisor of transportation for the school system.

Mr. Stull says he plans to visit the bus stop this week to look at the problem. If there are 15 or more children and he thinks there is a substantial risk of injury, he will change the route to allow the bus to pull into the Oak West Drive cul-de-sac, he said

School policy prohibits drivers from entering cul-de-sacs that are less than four-tenths of a mile long, like the one at Oak West. Stull said the school system can't make this exception every time parents ask because it would add hours to bus routes.

If the bus route can't be altered, Mrs. Bianco suggested that the road shoulder could be changed into a turn lane, allowing police to ticket those who pass the bus.

"I don't necessarily have to have my own way," she said. "I just want my children safe."

Mr. Stull said the women would have to take that issue up with the county road department.

Passing loading school buses is a perennial problem in Howard County. Police have received at least a dozen complaints this fall, said Sgt. Lee Goldman. No statistics are available for how many drivers have been ticketed for the $255 violation.

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