Motorists urged to watch for buses

As school area students head back to school, motorists should be on the lookout for school buses stopping for children.

Blatant disregard for a school bus’ red lights and extended stop sign arm will result in stiff penalties, Hollidaysburg State Police Trooper Christopher Fox said.

The penalty for violating Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law is a $250 fine, an automatic 60-day license suspension and five points applied to the driver’s license.

Fox said drivers should stop as soon as a bus’ red lights begin to flash. He urges people not to try to be the last one to “sneak by.”

Fox said bus drivers and parents call in complaints all the time about drivers not stopping for buses.

“Unless there is a physical barrier in the middle of the road that sets the bus apart from your vehicle, you have to stop,” he said, adding that it doesn’t matter whether drivers are traveling behind the bus or are meeting it from the opposite direction.

In Duncansville, Fullington Auto Bus Co.’s fleet of buses is ready to go.

Having a mean bus driver may be a part of many people’s childhood memories. But the drivers run a tight ship to keep kids safe, said Rick Focht, Fullington safety director.

It takes a minimum of 20 hours of training for a bus driver to be road ready. And there’s more training every four years, she said.

“School bus transportation is the safest form of transportation,” Focht said.

School buses have been involved in the least number of crashes over the years, according to PennDOT statistics.

While passenger cars were involved in 117,614 crashes in 2017, school buses were involved in 292 crashes and very rarely because of an error by the school bus driver, Focht added.

Each year, on a daily basis, there are more than 1.5 million students transported in Pennsylvania, and more than 400 million miles driven by school buses annually, PennDOT statistics show.