2008-10-23 / Local & State

PennDOT Presents School Bus Safety Awards

Students, drivers honored at school bus safety week kickoff

PennDOT recognized 12 Pennsylvania students for helping to communicate an important safety message and six school bus drivers for their superior driving skills during a ceremony Monday to kick off National School Bus Safety Week, which runs through Oct. 24.

The students, in kindergarten through eighth grade, were honored for their winning entries in the 2008 School Bus Safety Poster Contest. The theme for this year's contest, "Avoid Harm - Obey the Stop Arm," stressed the need for motorists to stop when a school bus is loading or unloading passengers.

"Through this contest, children have the opportunity to have fun, explore their creativity and, most importantly, raise awareness of the dangers of passing a stopped school bus illegally," said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E.

PennDOT organizes a poster contest every year and invites statewide entries from public and private schools. This year's winners were chosen from more than 450 entries. Pennsylvania's first-place entries will be forwarded to a national competition to be judged next month.

During the ceremony, Janet L. Dolan, director of PennDOT's Bureau of Driver Licensing, and Sgt. Robert J. Krol, supervisor of the Pennsylvania State Police's commercial vehicle safety section, also presented certificates and governor's citations to six school bus drivers for winning the 2008 Pennsylvania School Bus Driver Safety Competition. The competition, held annually in June, tests school bus drivers' knowledge of safety rules and safe operation of their buses.

"School bus drivers face the difficult challenge of safely transporting children to and from school every day," said Krol. "Through their extraordinary dedication and commitment to safety, they have earned the trust of parents and guardians throughout the state, and we thank them for their continuing commitment to this very important role."

Krol said "Operation Safe Stop," held in conjunction with National School Bus Safety Week, will be conducted Oct. 22, and will mean police officers will be looking for people who violate Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law.

Operation Safe Stop unites local and state law enforcement agencies, school districts and pupil transportation in an effort to raise public awareness of the consequences of improperly passing school buses and reducing occurrences.

State law requires motorists approaching a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended to stop at least 10 feet from that bus. Motorists approaching from all directions are required to stop. However, motorists who encounter a school bus stopping on the opposite side of a divided highway are not required to stop; lanes of a divided highway are clearly separated by a divider such as concrete barriers or grassy medians.

If possible, school bus drivers will also document any illegal passes occurring on their routes and will file a report with local authorities.

For school bus safety tips, visit the Driver Safety Information Center on PennDOT's Driver and Vehicle Services Web site at www.dmv.state.pa.us.

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