The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania State Police, and Pennsylvania Department of Education recently released the results of “Operation Safe Stop,” an annual school bus enforcement and education initiative held on October 20 this year.
[Above photo via Wikimedia Commons]
This enforcement campaign – held in conjunction with local and state police departments, school districts, and pupil transportation providers – seeks to raise public awareness about the consequences of improper passing of school buses as well as the consequences for doing so.
Operation Safe Stop recorded 252 violations of the state’s School Bus Stopping Law, up from the 120 reported in 2020. Meanwhile, convictions for breaking the School Bus Stopping Law decreased from 746 in 2019 to 314 in 2020.
That 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, if motorists encounter a school bus stopping on the opposite side of a divided highway, they are not required to stop if separated by a divider, such as a concrete barrier or grassy median.
“Although there were less convictions of the School Bus Stopping Law last year, one incident of passing a school bus is one too many, which is why we’re reminding motorists of its importance,” said PennDOT Deputy Secretary Kurt Myers in a statement.
“With additional challenges such as darkness coinciding with more of our students’ school bus ride times and the distraction of the quickly approaching holiday season, it is important that motorists remain vigilant while sharing the road with school buses and students,” he added.
“Student safety at school bus stops is a top priority that requires the cooperation and attention of all motorists,” added John Kashatus, a school safety education advisor with the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
“Local school districts work hard to identify the safest locations possible for school bus stops and to train their staff,” he noted. “But to ensure that students remain out of harm’s way, we urge all drivers to be attentive and watch for the flashing lights of school buses and always stop when students are getting on and off.”