2009-08-27 / Local & State

PennDOT Reminds Drivers, Students To Be Alert

As the new school year begins, PennDOT reminds motorists to help ensure the safety of children returning to classes by exercising increased vigilance during daily commutes as school buses and students appear more frequently on and along roadways.

"Back to school is an exciting time for students, and we want to ensure everyone reaches their destinations without incident," said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. "As schools statewide resume classes, motorists need to watch for students boarding and exiting buses and obeying traffic laws regarding school buses and school zones."

Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law requires motorists approaching a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended to stop at least 10 feet from the 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.

Motorists convicted of violating Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law face a $250 fine, five points on the driver's record and a 60-day license suspension.

Motorists also need to devote their full attention to school zones. Schools become hubs of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, so motorists are required to slow down to the posted speed limit of 15 miles per hour in school zones. Failure to comply will result in a fine and three points on the driver's record.

With more students waiting for buses along roads and increased numbers of students walking to school or their bus stops, motorists are reminded to be cautious when approaching a bus stop and to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

Students also share the responsibility of making the trip to school safe by exercising caution when boarding and riding the bus. PennDOT offers students the following school bus safety tips:

Get to the bus stop five minutes early to avoid having to run to catch the bus;

Be sure to look left-right-left to see that all cars have stopped;

When waiting for the school bus, stay at least five giant steps away from the curb or roadway to avoid traffic.

Avoid the "School Bus Danger Zone" by staying at least 10 giant steps away from the bus on all sides so the bus driver can see you. If you drop something and it is close to or under the bus, be sure to tell the driver before attempting to retrieve it.

Never walk behind the school bus.

Talk quietly while on the bus so the driver is not distracted; and remain seated at all times and wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before exiting.

For more information on Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law, plus additional school bus safety tips and programs, visit PennDOT's highway safety Web site: www.DriveSafePA.org and click on the School Bus Safety link under the Traffic Safety Information Center.

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