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More Pa. drivers busted failing to stop for school buses

Natasha Lindstrom
| Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, 2:27 p.m.
Evergreen Elementary principal Michael Matteo visits the bus stop at Garden City Drive and Old William Penn Highway on Wednesday morning, October 18 to talk with students about school bus safety. Joining Matteo in recognizing National School Bus Safety week were, The Gateway Gator, Mia Steen, and Raeyonce Howard, Gateway Cheerleader.  Lillian DeDomenic  |  For The Tribune Review
Evergreen Elementary principal Michael Matteo visits the bus stop at Garden City Drive and Old William Penn Highway on Wednesday morning, October 18 to talk with students about school bus safety. Joining Matteo in recognizing National School Bus Safety week were, The Gateway Gator, Mia Steen, and Raeyonce Howard, Gateway Cheerleader. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune Review
A school bus was struck while making a stop in front of Elks Lodge on Water Street in Kittanning in 2016.
Sarah Hepfl | Leader Times
A school bus was struck while making a stop in front of Elks Lodge on Water Street in Kittanning in 2016.

The number of Pennsylvania drivers caught failing to stop for school buses is on the rise, prompting Gov. Tom Wolf's administration to warn motorists about the penalties for violating the child safety law.

Last year, 730 drivers were found guilty of failing to comply with the state's school bus stopping law, PennDOT said Monday. That's up from 701 convictions in 2015, a 4 percent increase, according to PennDOT.

Officials said reinforcing the law is even more critical this time of year.

“With darkness coinciding with more of our students' school bus rides and the holiday season quickly approaching, it is important that motorists remain vigilant while sharing the road with school buses and students,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards said in a statement.

“We unfortunately saw more people breaking the school bus stopping law last year so we're reminding motorists of its importance,” Richards said.

The uptick was in spite of statewide efforts to reinforce the dangers and consequences linked to breaking the law.

On Oct. 18, PennDOT joined law enforcement, school districts and public transportation providers statewide participating in the state's annual Operation Safe Stop — a day of increased enforcement that yielded 120 violations.

State law requires motorists approaching a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended to stop at least 10 feet away, no matter which direction they're headed. Drivers may proceed only if the bus is stopped on the opposite side of a highway separated by a clear divider, such as a concrete barrier or grassy median.

Penalties for breaking the law can include a $250 fine, five points on a driving record and a 60-day driver's license suspension.

“But worse than these penalties, a tragedy could strike if either a driver or a student is not paying attention to their surroundings,” said Lt. Robert Krol, director of the commercial vehicle safety division for state police.

David Volkman, executive deputy secretary for the state Department of Education, urged school districts to do their part by ensuring they're choosing the safest locations for bus stops — a logistics priority many Western Pennsylvania transportation officials take into account each year.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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