Of­fi­cials uti­liz­ing so­cial me­dia to teach bus safety

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Stephanie Si­gafoos

“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.

JERRY HORBERT/GETTY

Po­lice are re­mind­ing mo­torists it’s il­le­gal to pass a school bus when its red lights are flash­ing and stop arm is ex­tended.

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