DALLAS TWP. — Local police departments are stepping up patrols this school season to ensure children’s safety in getting on and off buses, but officials hope parents and bus drivers will report violators, too.
State law requires drivers to stop for school buses to ensure the safety of children getting on or off the bus, but not all drivers comply.
Kingston Township Police Sgt. Martin Maransky said parents should try and get the vehicle’s make, model and license plate number, a description of the driver and report to the police department.
“School bus drivers don’t have to do all the reporting (to police departments), parents can,” Kingston Township D.A.R.E. Police Officer John Fuches said.
According to the National Highway Traffic Association, school-age children are more likely to be injured or killed when getting on and off school buses than at any other point during the school transportation process.
A nationwide study conducted by the NHTA found from 2004 to 2013, 327 children died from accidents related to school transportation; 116 children were pedestrians boarding or exiting school vehicles; 54 were in school vehicles, 147 were passengers in other vehicles, nine were bicyclists and one was a “nonoccupant.”
Fuches said not stopping for a school bus with red flashing lights is a violation of state law, and if convicted, drivers face a 60-day driver’s license suspension, $250 fine and receive five points on their driving record.
When a driver receives six points on their Pennsylvania driving record, they are required to pass a written examination on “safe driving practices, department sanctions, and other related safety issues,” according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation website.
Maransky said the common defense he hears from drivers who violate the law was the bus was not flashing its red lights when they drove past.
To provide supporting evidence of the infraction, Kingston Township Police Department’s patrol car fleet are equipped with video cameras that record offender. The video footage has been successfully used in court.
“We position police vehicles so the bus stop is on camera,” Maransky said.
Other back-to-school safety tips for children include the following:
• be alert to your surroundings;
• report suspicious vehicles or people to parents and police;
• look both ways before crossing the street;
• if you drop something do not run back for it because the bus driver may not see you; and
• make eye contact with the bus driver to know he/she sees you.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.