An Interview with Trooper Nathan T. Branosky on School Bus Safety:
It’s that time of year and children are going back to school. Bus Safety is of utmost importance. We want to keep our children safe.
I asked Trooper Nathan T. Branosky of the Pennsylvania State Police Troop M in Bethlehem a few questions. These are his responses:
What can a parent do to keep their child safe this school year in regards to school bus safety?
Trooper Branosky: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children should arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. Visit the bus stop and show your child where to wait for the bus: at least three giant steps (six feet) away from the curb. Remind your child that the bus stop is not a place to run or play.
When the school bus arrives, your child should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay before approaching the bus door. Your child should use the handrails to avoid falling.
Your child should never walk behind a school bus. If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, tell him/her to walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the street to a place at least five giant steps (10 feet) in front of the bus before crossing. Your child should also make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing to make sure the driver can see him/her. If your child drops something near the school bus, like a ball or book, the safest thing is for your child to tell the bus driver right away. Your child should not try to pick up the item, because the driver might not be able to see him/her.
What should a driver do as they approach a school bus?
Trooper Branosky: Stop at least ten feet before reaching the school bus when the red signal lights on the school bus are flashing and the side stop signal arms are activated.
What is the Pennsylvania Law on school bus safety?
Trooper Branosky: Please read below of Vehicle Code Title 75 Section 3345.
- 3345. Meeting or overtaking school bus.
(a) Duty of approaching driver when red signals are flashing.–Except as provided in subsection (g), the driver of a vehicle meeting or overtaking any school bus stopped on a highway or trafficway shall stop at least ten feet before reaching the school bus when the red signal lights on the school bus are flashing and the side stop signal arms are activated under section 4552(b.1) (relating to general requirements for school buses). The driver shall not proceed until the flashing red signal lights are no longer actuated. In no event shall a driver of a vehicle resume motion of the vehicle until the school children who may have alighted from the school bus have reached a place of safety. The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection at which a school bus is stopped shall stop his vehicle at that intersection until the flashing red signal lights are no longer actuated.
What happens to a driver if an officer sees a driver who violates school bus safety laws? What are the Penalties?
Trooper Branosky: A person who violates subsection (a) or (f.1) commits a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $250 and a $35 surcharge.
If I (or anyone) observe a driver not following the school bus safety laws, can I report it? If so, what do I do?
Trooper Branosky: Yes, you can report it to the transportation supervisor of the respected school district or police department where the violation occurred.
Where can I go to find further information on School Bus Safety?
The PennDOT homepage has tips on school bus safety.
Are there any special tips for school bus drivers?
Reports by school bus operators.–
(1) The operator of a school bus who observes a violation of subsection (a) may prepare a signed, written report which indicates that a violation has occurred. To the extent possible, the report shall include the following information:
(i) Information, if any, pertaining to the identity of the alleged violator.
(ii) The license number and color of the vehicle involved in the violation.
(iii) The time and approximate location at which the violation occurred.
(iv) Identification of the vehicle as an automobile, station wagon, motor truck, motor bus, motorcycle or other type of vehicle.
(v) Whether the school bus is equipped with a side stop signal arm enforcement system under section 3345.1 (relating to enforcement of failure to stop for school bus with flashing red lights).
(2) Within 48 hours after the violation occurs, the school bus operator shall deliver a copy of the report to a police officer having authority to exercise police power in the area where the violation occurred. If the police officer believes that the report establishes a sufficient basis for the issuance of a citation, the officer shall file a citation and the report with the issuing authority.