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Safety Tips to Prevent Pennsylvania School Bus Accidents

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School is back in session for Pennsylvania students. The return of the school year is accompanied by parents’ safety concerns. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) states that safety is a high priority. The department lists numerous safety tips students and bus drivers, as well as laws and suggestions for other motorists to prevent a school bus accidents.

PennDot’s tips for students include:

  • Arrive at the school bus at least five minutes early to avoid being late. If a student arrives late, he or she should never run after the bus once it has left the stop.
  • Avoid traffic- When waiting for the bus, line up at least five giant steps away from the curb or the roadway to wait for the bus.
  • Never cross the street behind the bus and always walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus when crossing so that the school bus driver can see you. Wait until all traffic has stopped before walking into the street.
  • Stay in your seat when the bus is moving and do not put your head or hands outside the window.

Bus drivers can help keep the kids safe by:

  • Conducting a pre-trip inspection prior to each trip to check for mechanical defects
  • Checking to make sure all children unloading from the bus are at a safe location before deactivating the eight-way light system and driving away
  • Conducting a post-trip check after all students have unloaded to ensure that no child has been mistakenly left on the bus
  • Being prepared to act accordingly in an emergency or in the event of a bus accident
  • Providing adequate safety instruction so that every student is familiar with school bus emergency procedures and equipment use, as well as the safe loading and unloading procedures.

In the event of an emergency or bus accident, PennDOT reminds bus drivers that while emergency vehicles are required to come to a complete stop when it encounters a school bus loading or unloading students, it is legal for the emergency vehicle proceed with caution even if the bus’s eight-way light system is still activated, providing it doesn’t risk the safety of the students.

It is not enough for students and bus drivers alone to do their part to ensure school bus safety.  Other vehicles who share the road with students must also do their part to prevent school bus accidents.  Pennsylvania’s school bus stopping law requires motorists to stop at least 10 feet away from school buses when the red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended.  Drivers are also required to stop when behind a bus or approaching an intersection in which a school bus is stopped.  When traveling alongside a school bus, drivers must stop and remain stopped until the red lights stop flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn and all children have safely reached their destination.

PennDOT, The American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Shaler Police Department warned motorists not to drive distracted and to watch out for pedestrians during the back-to-school season.  Both school bus accidents and pedestrian accidents involving students can be fatal.  Parents, students and bus drivers who follow the recommended safety tips can help prevent deadly school bus accidents.  Motorists who drive alert and obey Pennsylvania school bus stopping laws can avoid deadly school bus collisions and pedestrian accidents involving students.  To learn more about school bus safety and bus accident prevention, visit the PennDOT.

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