Those big yellow buses will be hitting the streets again soon, some armed with GPS tracking devices that will make them more efficient and easier to predict than ever. This means an easier, more convenient school year for parents, and a safer school year for kids, but it’s important to remember that those buses are carrying precious cargo.
Special driving precautions should be taken near school buses, a fact that many drivers seem to forget, especially near the beginning of the school year when the buses aren’t expected. A big part of being a good driver is developing your ability to put distractions aside and pay attention to the current situation, and it’s important to remember that a tiny error can have tragic consequences.
As much was said by Leslie S. Richards, secretary and spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. PennDOT is leading the push for safer driving near school buses in Pennsylvania, going as far as to post the following school bus safety guidelines on JustDrivePa.org:
– Motorists must stop at least 10 feet away from school buses that have their red lights flashing and stop arm extended.
– Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped.
– Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety.
– If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping.
– Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.
While many of these may seem like common sense, it’s important to know that these rules were put in place to save lives, and breaking these rules comes with a heavy penalty. Drivers in violation of these policies are looking at a $250 fine, five points on their driving record, and a full 60-day suspension of their driver’s license.
Parents and students can do their part to make riding the school bus a safe and fun experience by following a few more guidelines laid out by the state. While not legally required, tips like “arrive at the bus stop five minutes early” and “keep at least five steps away from traffic at all times” can save time or even lives, so read on to learn how you can make the next school year go more smoothly.