School Bus Laws – A Reminder
Summer is winding down and a new school year will soon begin for many area students. We offer this reminder of Pennsylvania’s school bus laws to help you keep our students safe while riding and getting on and off the bus.
Danger lurks whenever a frustrated driver is “stuck” behind a school bus making what seems to be endless stops on our many country roads. It also lurks in the careless driver who is too busy “texting” to see the stopped school bus ahead or the child crossing the street.
According to Pa. Department of Transportation statistics for 2011, more than 1.5 million children were transported by more than 31,000 buses over 404 million miles to and from school on Pennsylvania roads that year. Every year there are students that are needlessly injured or killed by drivers passing a stopped school bus or breaking other laws regarding school bus safety. The same year, more than 4,300 people were involved in nearly 400 accidents involving a school bus in the Commonwealth. The majority, 58 percent, resulted in injuries.
According to the Pa. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), over 1,000 drivers are cited for failing to obey school bus stopping laws in the state.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicle Code: When you meet or overtake a stopped school bus with red signal lights flashing and stop arm extended, you MUST STOP; When you approach an intersection where a school bus is stopped with red signal lights flashing and stop arm extended, you MUST STOP; You MUST STOP at least ten (10) feet away from the school bus; You MUST WAIT until the red lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm has been withdrawn before moving; and DO NOT MOVE until all the children have reached a place of safety.
There are exceptions to roadways with clearly defined dividing sections or physical barriers and the exception only applies when the school bus is on the opposite side of the road.
If you violate the law and are convicted you will receive all of the following penalties: a 60-day driver’s license suspension; five (5) points on your driving record; and a $250 fine.
If you’re unsure, the DMV offers a simple solution to keep drivers out of trouble. When in doubt – Stop.
Slow down, watch your speed and be aware of the road and what’s on it, even in areas that are not marked as school zones. This is especially important in our rural areas where there are no sidewalks. Watch for students crossing the street where you least expect it, and be prepared to stop. Pay attention to the road and leave your cell phone or texting device in your pocket.
And we offer this reminder for those drivers who become frustrated when trying to get to work and constantly find themselves stuck behind a bus that seems to be making a stop every 100 yards: leave for work a few minutes early, get ahead of the bus and stop being frustrated!
It’s a small price for you to pay to limit your frustration and keep the students safe.
Have a safe school year.