|Indiana, PA (August 23) - With "Back-to-School" just around the corner, PennDOT advises motorists to be on the alert for school buses and children by making school safety a Number One priority.|
According to the Pennsylvania School Bus Stopping Law, motorists must come to a complete stop when meeting a stopped school bus or approaching one at an intersection with the red lights flashing and a stop arm extended.
It is mandatory that motorists stop at least 10 feet away from the school bus and wait until the red lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm has been withdrawn before moving again.
Motorists should not resume motion until the children have reached a place of safety.
The only time a motorist is not required to stop is when he or she is on the opposite side of a divided highway from the bus and separated from the children by a permanent physical barrier.
If a motorist is in doubt of when to stop and when not to, the best thing to do is stop. Schools that have pedestrian traffic may have electronic school zone safety flashers. Flashing lights are activated during critical times when children are entering or exiting the school.
Motorists should always use extreme caution and obey the 15 mph speed limit when these signs are flashing. PennDOT advises motorists to use caution in school zones regardless of the time of day.
Drivers who violate these laws will receive penalties, which may include a 60-day driver's license suspension, five points on their driving record, a $250 fine and other possible fees.
- When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
- When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking of getting there safely.
- Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.
- Slow down. Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.
- Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
- Learn and obey the school bus laws. Learn the "flashing signal light system" that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:
- Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
- Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
- When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
- Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it's okay before stepping onto the bus.
If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.
- Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don't get caught in the handrails or doors.
- Never walk behind the bus.
- Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.
- If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.
- Teach children to follow these common sense practices to make school bus transportation safer.
Biking To School:
- Obey all traffic signals and/or the crossing guard -- never cross the street against a light, even if you don't see any traffic coming.
- Walk your bike through intersections.
- Wear reflective material...it makes you more visible to street traffic.
- Always wear a helmet.
Remember safety starts with you! Take extra time and use extreme caution when traveling through school zones. Be on the alert for stopped school buses and children walking to and from school. By paying attention to school safety, we can all play an important role in protecting our precious children.
To schedule a school safety education program or to set up a media event to promote school safety, contact Shawn Houck, PennDOT Safety Press Officer, at 724 357-2843.
Please visit www.dot.state.pa.us for more information about PennDOT Engineering District 10.