As the new school year gets underway, motorists need to be vigilant in order to avoid potentially tragic crashes and strong penalties as school buses return to the roads to pick up students waiting for a ride.
“Our lives are filled with distractions, but we simply must put them aside and focus on the road ahead when we get behind the wheel,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “Even a momentary distraction – especially around school buses and in school zones — can lead to tragedy.”
Motorists approaching a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended are required to stop in all directions at least 10 feet from the bus. The only exception to the law is when a school bus is stopped on the opposite side of a highway clearly separated by a divider, such as concrete barriers or grass medians. Even in this situation, motorists should remain watchful of students trying to cross the road to catch the bus.
If convicted of violating Pennsylvania’s school bus stopping law, drivers face a $250 fine, five points on their driving record and a 60-day license suspension.
Students are also exposed to traffic while waiting for buses or walking to the bus stop or school. Motorists are reminded to be cautious and alert when approaching a school bus stop and to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
In addition to watching for school buses, motorists should be alert in school zones, which become hubs of vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Motorists are required to slow down to the posted speed limit of 15 mph in school zones. If convicted, violators face a fine and three points on their driving record.
For more information on Pennsylvania’s school bus stopping law, school bus safety tips and programs, visit PennDOT’s highway safety website, www.JustDrivePa.org, and select the “School Bus Safety” link under the Traffic Safety Information Center.