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Southmoreland working to make bus stops safer

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Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011

State police, local police, Groomes Bus Lines and Southmoreland School District administrators will be teaming up on Oct. 19 to make bus stops as safe as possible for students.

Through Operation Safe Stop, bus drivers with Groomes will be actively watching for individuals who go through the bus stop sign at bus stops in high traffic areas.

Arthur Showman, owner and president of Groomes Bus Lines, said the bus drivers will actually have a violation tracking form with them to list the features of the individual who illegally passed the bus when the stop lights were engaged.

Drivers will also try to get a license number, the color of the vehicle, the vehicle body type, the time of the incident and the approximate location.

Showman said the violation tracking form will be turned in to Scottdale Borough Police who will deal with the incidents in the borough and pass along the incidents to state police that are out of their jurisdiction.

"This is really to help us identify and target places where people are going through bus lights when they're loading or discharging students," he said.

Showman said bus drivers deal with violations more often than people may think. He said during the past few years, the fines and penalties have increased.

"I think Operation Safe Stop is a good program," he said. "We will have support from the troopers on this when their schedule allows. This is very important because it's the lives and well-being of kids that are at stake."

Charlie Swink, transportation director for Southmoreland School District, advises the public to be aware when driving in the mornings and afternoons, especially on stretches of road that include routes 31 and 819.

"People are on their way to work and they're not really paying attention to what's going on up ahead and before they know it, there's a bus stop," he said. "They need to realize that when they see a bus at a stop, they need to stop as well."

He added a child can dart out in front of a vehicle in a minute.

"No one wants to be the cause of a child getting hurt or even killed," Swink said. "No one wants to have to live with that."

If the day of monitoring shows that there are dangerous bus stops, the district will look at the issue to see if the stops need to be moved or need to be addressed in other ways.

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