As students prepare to return to school later this month, Howard County police are working to ensure that children, parents and teachers arrive safely. Through a continuing back-to-school program, known as H.A.S.T.E. (Helping Arriving Students Through Enforcement), officers will focus on enforcing speed, seat belt and child safety seat laws in school zones.

Traffic patrols will be in place on roadways surrounding elementary, middle and high schools for the first two weeks of the school year. Officers will be working to identify drivers who are speeding in those areas. They also will be checking for seat belt and child safety seat use to ensure all occupants are properly restrained.

Police are also reminding drivers that buses serving the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) have been outfitted with external cameras. The purpose of the program, which launched in March of this year, is to ensure student safety by discouraging motorists from passing buses illegally. The state of Maryland’s fine for illegally passing a school bus is $250.

“We have seen a concerning number of violations for drivers illegally passing school buses, particularly in the Route 1 corridor,” said Police Chief Lisa Myers. “We want drivers to be clear that vehicles traveling in both directions must stop when a school bus’s lights are activated and the stop sign is extended.”

The police department also protects walking students in school zones with a speed camera program designed to encourage drivers to slow down with fines set at $40. The cameras are rotated among various school zones in the county, which are posted in advance and updated every week at hcpd.org. The site also offers additional information on all the department’s automated enforcement programs and answers to frequently asked questions.

"With our children and educators heading back to school buildings, please be extra cautious when driving through our neighborhoods," said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. "Plan for extra time during your commute past school corridors as bus routes and student drop-offs begin again."

The police department will continue to conduct traffic safety education and enforcement efforts throughout the school year.

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