PUNXSUTAWNEY – Pennsylvania State Police Captain Bernard J. Petrovsky, commander, Troop C, Punxsutawney, has announced the continued commitment and participation of troopers in Operation Safe Stop.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, the Pupil Transportation Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and the Pennsylvania School Bus Association have joined forces to plan Operation Safe Stop. This is a collaborative effort to raise public awareness about the potential consequences of illegal school bus passes and to reduce these occurrences.
On Wednesday, the 16th annual Operation Safe Stop will take place. Prior to this, the transportation directors for area schools and school bus contractors identified a list of “trouble spots,” or routes or stops with a high frequency of violations. This information is being submitted to their state police barracks.
Then, troopers are being assigned to watch these routes or stops and issue citations to violators. Citations issued for school bus violations can include a fine of $250 (plus costs) and result in a substantial operator’s license suspension.
Following the law when driving near a school bus will ensure everyone arrives at their destination safely, said Petrovsky. The following are school bus safety reminders for students and drivers:
- Never walk close to the front or sides of the bus. The bus driver may not be able to see you.
- When crossing the street to get onto the bus, always look left, then right and then left again.
- If you drop something near the bus, don’t pick it up until you tell the bus driver. Otherwise, he or she may not see you.
- Wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver says it’s OK to board stepping onto the bus.
- Never speak to strangers at the bus stop and never get into a car with a stranger. Always go straight home and tell your parents if a stranger tries to talk to you or pick you up.
- Yellow, flashing lights on a bus indicate it’s getting ready to stop and load/unload. You need to slow down and prepare to stop.
- Red, flashing lights on a bus indicate it’s stopped and that children are getting on/off. You must stop your vehicle at least 10 feet before reaching the school bus. You may not proceed until the flashing red lights aren’t any longer activated.
- You can be fined $250 for each violation when improperly meeting or overtaking a school bus. Additionally, a conviction will result in a 60-day driver’s license suspension and assessment of five points on your driving record.
- Please obey all posted speed limits, especially in school zones, where penalties are enhanced.
“Children [who are] walking to school or school buses that are stopping for children could slow down your morning or evening commute,” said Petrovsky. “Adjust your driving schedule appropriately.
“Remember when the bus lights are flashing red, you must stop a safe distance from the bus and remain stopped until the lights are deactivated. Drive carefully and as always buckle up, it saves lives.”