When it comes to safety on our roads, school buses are one of the safest modes of transportation.
Every day across the United States half a million school buses transport an estimated 25 million students to school. Despite these massive numbers, on average only 19 fatalities are recorded each year from accidents involving a school bus.
The American School Bus Council explains why this is the case. Not only are the buses robustly built with good signage and flashing lights, but all drivers are screened and fully trained. On top of those safeguards, there are key state laws relating to the interaction between school buses and other traffic, which are strictly enforced.
Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law
There are 1.5 million children transported to and from school on Pennsylvanian roads every day. And each year children are killed or injured by drivers who ignore the school bus stopping law. Here is what the law says:
- When you are approaching a stationary school bus with red lights flashing and its stop arm extended, You Must Stop
- When approaching an intersection where a school bus has stopped with its red signal lights flashing and stop arm extended, You Must Stop
- When you stop, you must be at least 10 feet from the school bus
- You must always wait until the red lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm has been withdrawn before commencing your journey
- You must not move your vehicle until all children have clearly reached a place of safety
Remember that these important rules apply when you are behind a school bus, or in a lane on either side of the bus. It doesn’t matter if it’s a two-lane or four-lane highway or more, you must stop.
*The only instance when you do not need to stop is if there is a physical barrier or divider between the lanes, such as a concrete median, guide rails, trees, grass, a stream, etc. This applies only when the school bus is on the opposite side of the road.
For more information about the Pennsylvania School Bus Stopping Law, check out this PA Department of Motor Vehicle fact sheet
Penalties for Violating the Pennsylvania School Bus Stopping Law
If you are convicted of violating the Pennsylvania school bus stopping law, you will face the following penalties:
- 60-day drivers license suspension
- Five points on your driving record
- A $250 fine
On top of that, you may also face charges relating to injury or death, not to mention a lifetime of guilt. It is simply not worth ignoring such a worthwhile law that protects the lives and safety of children.
Tips on School Bus Safety for Children and Parents
It’s important for parents to teach their children how to safely use the school bus each day. Here are some tips to remember regarding the bus stop:
1. Children should arrive at the bus stop five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Visit the bus stop with your child before the first day and show them where to wait. They should remain six feet from the curb until it is time to enter the bus.
2. It’s important your child understands that a bus stop is not a place to play. Running, pushing and not paying attention can be fatal.
3. A child should never attempt to enter or exit the bus until it has completely stopped, the door has opened, and the driver has given permission to the children to approach the door. Where possible the child should always use the hand rails and leave space between them and the person in front when climbing onto the bus.
4. While on the bus, a child should always take a seat right away and sit facing forward, not leaning over the back of the seat talking to their friends. Children should always remain seated.
5. Make sure your child is aware that they should never put their hands, heads or items such as backpacks out of the windows.
6. When exiting the school, bus your child should walk on a sidewalk if possible where they can clearly see up and down the road. Trying to cross the road directly in front of or directly behind the school bus is dangerous as a child will not have clear vision of approaching traffic.
7. Your child should also not hang around directly in front of or directly behind the school bus. Although school buses have well positioned mirrors, they still have blind spots due to their height.
Talking to your child and impressing on them the importance of safety around the school bus could be a lifesaver, so it is definitely worth 15 minutes of any parent’s time.