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Bus safety

Published October 20. 2010 05:00PM

No one seems more vulnerable than children entering or departing a school bus in the early morning or late afternoon hours.

At bus stops throughout the area, there are children, parents there to pick them up, and a lot of activity.

It's not uncommon to see children running across the road, not looking out for possible motorists.

We have laws that protect these children from motorists. But we can never be too careful.

This week, stretching through Friday, is National School Bus Safety Week. It's a week that sends out a message to all motorists that the safety of our children, going and coming from school, should be our top priority.

Already this week there was an incident where a car rear-ended a loaded school bus, injuring one student. State Police from the Lehighton barracks said the crash occurred about 8:20 a.m. on Monday along Kunkletown Road in Ross Township, Monroe County.

The bus was stopped - its red lights were activated and students were being picked up - when a Saylorsburg driver struck the back of the bus. A nine year old student was injured and taken to the hospital. Fortunately there were no other reported injuries.

The driver of the car was cited. He will probably be fined heavily, and may even lose his license. Thankfully, his failure to pay attention didn't result in a tragedy.

In case you need to be reminded, state law requires motorists approaching a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended to stop at least 10 feet from that bus. Motorists approaching from all directions are required to stop. However, motorists who encounter a school bus stopping on the opposite side of a divided highway are not required to stop; lanes of a divided highway are clearly separated by a divider such as concrete barriers or grassy medians.

In 2009, more than 850 motorists were convicted of violating Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law. The same year, there were 414 school bus crashes resulting in four fatalities, including two school bus drivers. No school bus passengers were killed.

Pay special attention to National School Bus Safety Week. But don't let it stop there. Every day motorists must be aware of the potential dangers if they're not paying attention.

If you come upon a school bus loading or unloading students, and you're not sure what to do, exercise caution and stop and wait for the bus to start moving again.

It's better to be safe than sorry.

Bob Urban

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