Officials utilizing social media to teach bus safety
“School’s open. Watch for school buses.”
Those were the words of Bethlehem police Chief Mark DiLuzio posted to the department’s Facebook page last week as kids around the Lehigh Valley began their first day of classes. Many more will start this week, and officials are turning to social media to emphasize school bus safety.
The Pennsylvania State Police, PennDOT, and Northampton County Emergency Management Services also took the time to offer tips for drivers, pedestrians and bus riders.
The social media blitz comes as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlighted alarming statistics on the number of children killed when approaching or leaving a bus. The NHTSA said that from 2008 to 2017, there were 264 children killed in schooltransportation-related crashes. Most of the students weren’t on the bus: 203 were either walking, waiting for the bus, biking or in another vehicle.
Last November, five children were killed and seven injured in one week when they were hit by drivers near school bus stops. The incidents — in Indiana, Mississippi, Florida and Pennsylvania — put a spotlight on pedestrian safety and distracted driving across the country. In the central Pennsylvania incident, police said a 7-year-old boy from Franklin Township, Huntingdon County, was found dead on the road by his home after he was hit by a slow-moving vehicle.
DiLuzio’s message asked drivers to be observant and alert throughout the school year.
“Remember what your duty as a driver is when you see a school bus with flashing red lights and the stop sign arm extended,” his Facebook post said. “When the arm is out … stop without a doubt.”
A new graphic from PennDOT making the rounds on both Facebook and Twitter illustrates when motorists need to stop for school buses, while a video from Trooper Brent Miller, communications office director for the state police, provides advice for walkers and bus riders.
“If you walk to school, make sure to utilize appropriate clothing and have the necessary accessories available for the weather that day; utilize the sidewalk; if there’s no
“Remember what your duty as a driver is when you see a school bus with flashing red lights and the stop sign arm extended. When the arm is out … stop without a doubt.”
— Bethlehem police Chief Mark DiLuzio in a Facebook post
sidewalk, walk on the shoulder of the road, facing traffic, and limit your distractions,” Miller says.
Miller also tells kids riding the bus to arrive to their stop at least five minutes early. “If you have to cross the roadway [to board the bus], make sure the school bus and all traffic has come to a complete stop. Cross at least 10 feet in front of the school bus,” Miller says.
DiLuzio’s post gave a quick review of the state law on passing a school bus with its lights on. If convicted of breaking this law, drivers can: Receive a $250 fine. Receive five points on their driving record.
Receive a 60-day suspension of their license.
A graphic included with the Facebook post noted that over 1,000 motorists annually fail to obey the School Bus Stopping Law.
The only time drivers may proceed without stopping for a bus is when they are traveling on a highway with a clearly defined dividing section or physical barriers providing separate roadways. This only applies when the bus is on the opposite side of the road.
Police are reminding motorists it’s illegal to pass a school bus when its red lights are flashing and stop arm is extended.