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Motorists reminded of school bus safety rules

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Conewango Township Police follow a school bus on Jackson Run Road in North Warren.

The school year is a few weeks old and students and bus drivers are getting into their patterns.

Unfortunately, some motorists have developed some bad habits.

“At the beginning of the school year we always have some issues,” Conewango Township Police Officer Charlie Andersen said.

There are several main rules in Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law, according to PennDOT.

“Motorists must stop at least 10 feet away from school buses that have their red lights flashing and stop arm extended; motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus, or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped; motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety; if physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails, or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping; and do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.”

The stopping rule applies to almost all of Route 62 in North Warren, regardless of the number of travel lanes. “Unless it’s physically divided, you have to stop,” Andersen said.

A turn lane or space between the travel lanes is not a physical divider.

“The safety of our students is the highest priority of the district,” Warren County School District Safety and Security Officer Brandon Deppen said.

“We are working with our law enforcement partners to make the ride to and from school as safe as possible. This takes all of us to achieve.”

“A driver having to wait a few moments for a student to safely board a school bus is worth the life and safety of our children,” Deppen said. “The bus that you are passing may have your child or their friend on board.”

In addition to creating a safety hazard for the students, according to PennDOT, the penalties for violating the school bus stopping law include a $250 fine, five points on the driving record, and a 60-day drivers license suspension.

The school board has given initial approval to an agreement that would bring external cameras to all school buses.

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