It’s National School Bus Safety Week

(Reading Eagle:  Published 10/18/2015, Hetrick, Jennifer, Web)

Here are some tips on proper behavior around school buses for drivers, parents and students.

With distracted driving a common problem, National School Bus Safety Week, which this year is Monday through Friday, is more relevant than ever.  “In my opinion, the goal of student transportation is having it be a nonevent,” said Brian Quigley, vice president of Quigley Bus Service Inc. in Bally, which serves the Boyertown and Oley Valley school districts.

Since texting while driving is something a lot of people don’t want to admit to, Quigley offered a thought to help shift perspectives on safety.  “When you’re texting and driving, think about the person who is texting and driving past your kids’ bus stop,” Quigley said.  Quigley, who has been driving buses since 1981, has had generally good experiences with others sharing the road.  “Most people are respectful of the school bus,” Quigley said. “From what I personally observe, I believe the majority of the running of the reds happens from inattention.”

Michael Berk, the executive director of the Pennsylvania School Bus Association based in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County, arranges to leave early each morning because he knows school bus stops are a part of his commute to work.  “I have to time when I leave my house so I don’t get behind a school bus,” Berk said, noting that he advises others to think about this before leaving the house.

Berk also said that school bus safety poster contests are one way schools, transportation departments and school bus contractors celebrate the third week in October every year, and this year’s theme is promoting a “Bully-Free Zone.”  A judge for posters submitted to the state for this year’s contest, Berk said he received copies for review electronically in September.  Since bullying is not only an ethical issue but also a safety concern and a means of distracting bus drivers, it’s relevant.  “Some kids conveyed students taking care of others who had been bullied, or they depicted scenes of kids playing together, the idea that no one should be left out and that bullying is bad,” Berk said. “One drew a student sitting next to another, trying to console the other student, and some posters had kids wearing anti-bullying T-shirts.”

Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law

  • 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.

Source: Just Drive PA via PennDOT

Tips for parents and students

  • Get to the school bus stop five minutes early, so you won’t have to run across the road to catch the bus.
  • When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic. Line up at least five giant steps away from the curb or the roadway to wait for the bus.
  • Never run after the school bus if it has already left the bus stop.
  • Never push when getting on or off of the school bus.
  • Always walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus when crossing so that the school bus driver can see you.
  • Be aware – cross with care! Wait until the school bus has stopped all traffic before stepping out onto the road.
  • When the school bus is moving, always stay in your seat. Never put your head, arms or hands out of the window.
  • Talk quietly; do not distract your school bus driver.
  • If your school bus crosses railroad tracks, be calm and quiet so that your driver can listen for a train.
  • Always obey your school bus driver’s instructions, so that he or she can make safe decisions.
  • Never play with the emergency exits. Backpacks, band instruments or sports equipment may not block the aisle or emergency exits. If there is an emergency, listen to the driver and follow instructions.
  • When getting off the school bus, make sure that all drawstrings and other loose objects are secure so that they don’t get caught on the handrail or the door.
  • Never cross the street behind the school bus.
  • If you leave something on the bus or drop something outside of the bus, never go back for it. The driver may not see you and begin moving the bus.
  • Never speak to strangers at the bus stop, and never get into the car with a stranger.

Source: Just Drive PA via PennDOT

The lawyers at Liever, Hyman & Potter, P.C., are concerned for the safety of school students, parents and school bus drivers in Berks County and Schuylkill County and serve truck, bus and auto accident victims and their families in Reading, PA, Pottsville, PA, and throughout Eastern and Central, Pennsylvania.

From the desk of Adam K. Levin, Esquire.

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