Time to watch for school buses and students

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

It’s that time of year again when the school buses will be back on the roads. Greencastle-Antrim residents have had their share of challenges in travel since last fall. So the patience needed to navigate our busy roads, including school buses, has already been practiced.

Be alert for school buses and students on their way to and from school.

We want to ensure that everyone reaches their destination without incident. Motorists need to take the added precaution of watching for students boarding and exiting buses, respecting school crossing guards and obeying traffic laws regarding school buses and school zones.

Pennsylvania's school bus stopping 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, motorists who encounter a school bus stopping on the opposite side of a divided highway are not required to stop; lanes of a divided highway are clearly separated by a divider such as concrete barriers or grassy medians.

Motorists convicted of violating Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law face a $250 fine, five points on the driver's record and a 60-day license suspension.

Other areas requiring motorists' full attention are school zones.  Motorists are required to slow down to the posted speed limit of 15 miles per hour in school zones.  Failure to comply will result in a fine and three points on the driver's record.

Motorists need to be alert for students darting into the street from between parked cars or improperly crossing the street while walking or riding their bikes to school.

Students are reminded they must exercise caution for their own safety when boarding and riding the bus.  PennDOT offers students the following school bus safety tips:

— Get to the bus stop five minutes early to avoid having to run across the road to catch the bus;

— Be sure to look LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT to see that all cars have stopped;

— Avoid the School Bus Danger Zone - stay at least 10 giant steps away from the bus on all sides, so the bus driver can see you - if you drop something and it is close or under the bus be sure to tell the driver before you retrieve it;

— NEVER walk behind the school bus;

— When getting on and off the school bus, make sure all drawstrings and other loose objects are secure so they don't get caught in the handrail or door;

— Talk quietly while on the bus, so the driver is not distracted; and

— Remain seated at all times and wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before exiting.

For more information about Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law, visit the School Bus Safety link at www.dot.state.pa.us.