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Tioga County isn’t immune to vehicle drivers blowing through school bus stops where students are trying to get on or off stopped school buses.

Following a recent string deaths where children children were struck by motorists while getting on or off school buses, a local resident reported that a similar incident in mid-October could have been a tragedy if not for the quick thinking of the bus driver.

According to a bus driver with Rice Transportation, on Oct. 15 at a school bus stop on Butler Hill Road, a speeding car nearly hit some students who were getting ready to cross the road and board bus 475.

The red, four-door vehicle, an older model car, blew through the bus stop, he said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation recently announces results for “Operation Safe Stop,” an annual school bus enforcement and education initiative.

Operation Safe Stop data revealed that participating school districts and law enforcement agencies reported 147 violations of the law, up from the 120 reported last year. Convictions for breaking the School Bus Stopping Law increased from 730 in 2016 to 747 in 2017.

“We unfortunately saw more people breaking the School Bus Stopping Law last year so we’re reminding motorists of its importance,” said PennDOT secretary Leslie S. Richards. “With additional challenges such as darkness coinciding with more of our students’ school bus ride times and the distraction of the quickly approaching holiday season, it is important that motorists remain vigilant while sharing the road with school buses and students,”

The School Bus Stopping Law requires motorists approaching a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended, to stop at least 10 feet from the bus. Motorists approaching from all directions are required to stop except for motorists who encounter a school bus stopping on the opposite side of a divided highway that are separated by a divider, such as a concrete barrier or grassy median. The penalties if convicted of breaking the law are a $250 fine, five points on your driving record and a 60-day license suspension.

“But worse than these penalties, a tragedy could strike if either a driver or a student is not paying attention to their surroundings,” said Capt. Robert Krol, assistant director of the Bureau of Patrol for the Pennsylvania State Police. 

Students waiting for, loading or unloading a bush should remember to:

  • Get to the school bus stop five minutes early, so you won´t have to run across the road to catch the bus.
  • When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic.
  • Line up at least five giant steps away from the curb or the roadway to wait for the bus.
  • Never run after the school bus if it has already left the bus stop.
  • Never push when getting on or off the school bus.

For more information on school transportation and other safety subjects, visit www.penndot.gov and under “Travel in PA” look under “Safety,” then click on the “Traffic Safety and Driver Topics” tab.