Pennsylvania Motorists Must Stop at Red Lights on a Bus

school busImage by Wokandapix

PENNSYLVANIA — Red lights on a bus are one of the most important signals that motorists must obey. In Pennsylvania, motorists are required to stop when they see red lights flashing on a bus. This is for the safety of everyone on the road. If you’re not sure what to do when you see red lights flashing on a bus, keep reading for more information!

Most people are familiar with the school bus safety rule: when the red lights on the bus are flashing, drivers in both directions must stop. However, what many people don’t realize is that this rule applies to more than just public highways. In Pennsylvania, the law requires that motorists stop for school buses that are flashing their red lights, regardless of whether the bus is on a public road or a private one. This includes roads in parking lots and driveways. The only exception to this rule is if there is a physical barrier, such as a median, between the approaching traffic and the bus. In that case, only drivers who are coming from the same direction as the bus are required to stop.

Despite the fact that school buses are statistically the safest way to transport school children, 66 passengers and 55 drivers died while riding in school buses between 2009 and 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A total of 249 school-age children (18 and younger) died in school-transportation-related crashes during that period, either as occupants of school buses or other vehicles, or on foot or bike. A total of 1,207 people of all ages died in school-transportation-related crashes between 2009 and 2018. While this number may seem high, it is important to remember that these accidents are relatively rare.

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The Pennsylvania General Assembly recently enacted a bill (HB 364) that makes several changes to the operation of stop-arm cameras. The intent of the bill is to clarify that a violation captured by a stop-arm camera is not a criminal offense, and to ensure that photographs or recorded video images produced by the system will not identify the driver, passengers or the contents of the vehicle. The bill also allows school districts to enter into agreements with police departments to issue violations using automated stop-arm signal arm enforcement systems. These changes are designed to improve public safety and help reduce the number of accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians near schools.

Additionally, the state of Pennsylvania increased the fine for illegally passing a school bus from $285 to $300. The state also changed the distribution of the fine revenue, with $250 going to the school district where the violation occurred. The money is to be used for the installation or maintenance of side stop signal arm enforcement systems on school buses. $25 is now directed to the police department that reviewed the evidence, and $25 is allocated to the School Bus Safety Grant Program Account. This is down from the $35 that was previously in law. By increasing the fines for illegal passing and directing more money toward bus safety improvements, the state of Pennsylvania is taking steps to keep students safe.

The next time you’re driving behind a school bus, remember these simple tips to help keep the children on board safe. And if you’re a student getting off the bus, be sure to look both ways before crossing the street and obey any traffic signals.

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