Of course it’s hard to be patient when you’re in a hurry and stuck behind a school bus that seems like it’s stopping every few feet to pick up or drop off passengers, but adding a few minutes to your trip could save the life of one of our local kids.
State law says drivers 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 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, advises the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).
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.
It’s important to remember that students are also exposed to traffic while waiting for buses or walking to the bus stop or school. Drivers should be cautious and alert when approaching a school bus stop and to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
In addition to watching for school buses, drivers 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, says PennDOT.
But it’s not just up to drivers to exercise caution as school buses return to their routes. Here’s some tips for students and parents, courtesy of PennDot:
- Get to the school bus stop five minutes early, so you won’t have to run across the road to catch the bus.
- When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic. Line up at least five giant steps away from the curb or the roadway to wait for the bus.
- Never run after the school bus if it has already left the bus stop.
- Always walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus when crossing so that the school bus driver can see you.
- Wait until the school bus has stopped all traffic before stepping out onto the road.
- When the school bus is moving, always stay in your seat and sit facing forward. Never put your head, arms, or hands out of the window.
- Always obey your school bus driver’s instructions, so that he or she can make safe decisions.
- Never play with the emergency exits. Backpacks, band instruments, or sports equipment may not block the aisle or emergency exits. If there is an emergency, listen to the driver and follow instructions.
- Never cross the street behind the school bus.
School is back in session Tuesday, Sept. 3, in the New Hope-Solebury School District. Remember to stay alert on the road — for all our kids.