As our children head back to school for another year, school buses are back out on the roads throughout the Abingtons.
Clarks Summit Police Chief Christopher Yarns offered his expertise and advice to help make this school year a safe one.
The chief pointed out potential dangers for school children at bus stops, such as “children running (because they are running late) to bus stops in the dark, while wearing dark clothing.”
“These children tend to run across nearby streets into traffic. We have received complaints of children darting out in front of moving cars to cross a street just before a bus arrives,” he said.
Chief Yarns said there are three main safety tips for children who ride school buses and their parents:
■ First, “try to have a reasonable parent available at the bus stop, especially with younger children.
■ Second, “Teach children where, when, and how you should wait at a bus stop and when, and how to cross a street.”
■ And third, “students and parents should always look at the bus driver. They may see something you don’t and signal to you.”
Motorists coming in contact with school children and school buses have responsibilities as well, said the chief.
“When the yellow lights are flashing that means the red lights will come on soon. Be prepared to stop. When traveling in the opposite direction where there is not a physical divider, all drivers must stop,” he said.
Chief Yarns said motorists make some common mistakes in relation to school buses, such as not realizing they are required to stop both directions when bus lights are flashing on four-lane highways where there is no physical barrier, and not realizing they have to stop when they are at a cross street when the bus lights are flashing.
He said it isn’t hard to make it safer for children out there.
“Pay attention and become familiar with where and when bus stops are at during your travels. Be patient at all times. Looking at the kids to see if they are looking at you, and they are aware of your presence,” he said.
He added, “do not pass a bus in either direction (including on the right) while the red lights are on, regardless of what type of urgency you may have. Bus drivers have an enormous responsibility which includes watching traffic and dealing with behavior issues on the bus. Bus drivers usually are the only adult on the bus and can’t always see everything that is going on in respect to behavior issues. If a bus driver asks a certain child to sit somewhere else to calm things down so he/she can concentrate on driving, please respect that request as both a parent and a child.”
According to the chief, motorists can brush up on school bus safety laws by looking up Pennsylvania vehicle code title 75 Section 3345 and 3345. He said those laws pertain to “duties of a driver who intends to overtake or pass a school bus in either direction.
“Bus drivers shall obtain driver and vehicle information about a violation that they witness and pass it on to police, in which case the police officer may file a citation based on the bus driver’s account.”
Teri Lyon is a mom, grandmom and freelance writer who lives in Glenburn Township with her cat.