POTTSTOWN PA – Children are relatively safe while they travel on a school bus, national transportation experts say, but they face real traffic hazards from speeding vehicles or negligent drivers once the bus stops and they attempt to board or leave it.
Ensuring students’ safety outside a bus will be the focus of a local “Operation Safe Stop” exercise next Wednesday (Oct. 21, 2015) that involves the Upper Pottsgrove Police Department and the bus-riding students of Pottsgrove Middle School. The event was announced in an item on the Upper Pottsgrove Township Facebook page.
Upper Pottsgrove Ofc. Larry Hanna, who also is the school resource officer at Pottsgrove Middle, said members of the department will vary their routines during the day by riding with students on some buses, stationing themselves with others at bus stops, and following in patrol and unmarked vehicles behind buses as they pick up children on their routes.
Hanna also proudly noted the event is not limited to the township or district. School resource officers and police departments “all over the area will be participating,” he said.
Monday also marks the start of National School Bus Safety Week, which extends through Oct. 23.
According to a report issued last month by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil
Transportation Services, thousands of drivers each year illegally pass school buses when their lights are flashing and stop arms are extended, the signals indicating children are entering or exiting a bus.
“Any driver who passes a stopped school bus illegally is endangering children and possibly even his or her own future. Trying to save a few seconds by passing a school bus and hitting a child can be devastating not only for the victims and their families, but also for the motorist who will have to live with the sad consequences,” the association said.
The local exercise is expected to provide teachable moments for students and drivers alike. Police officers and school officials will review bus safety tips for parents and students, and the law enforcement presence also will reinforce Pennsylvania’s school bus stopping law.
The township on Facebook urged drivers to “please be vigilant in obeying the traffic laws around school buses and stops on this date, and every day.”
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