As part of National School Bus Safety Week, observed October 17 to October 21, Pennsylvania held its own component to the initiative with the fifteenth annual Operation Safe Stop. On Wednesday, October 19, the operation served as a community effort to educate, monitor, and enforce vehicle violations involving the passing of stopped school buses.
Under Pennsylvania state law, vehicle drivers are required to stop a minimum of 10 feet away from a school bus that has its red lights blinking and its stop sign protracted. Drivers are mandated to halt whether they are approaching the bus from behind, passing in the opposite lane of traffic, or navigating a crossing where a bus is stopped. Vehicle operators must stop until the warning lights have halted, the stop sign has been retracted, and all children have either exited or entered the bus to a safe location. There is only one exception to the rule: if physical blockades, like grassy areas, steel rails, or concrete medians separate traffic in opposite lanes, vehicles in the lanes opposite of the stopped bus can proceed.
Adhering to school bus traffic rules may seem obvious, but tragic accidents occur too often as a result of these kinds of situations. Back in late June of this year, 23 people (15 kids and eight adults) were injured in a Harrisburg car accident involving a bus and another vehicle. According to reports, after the vehicle attempted to pass the bus under unsafe circumstances, the two collided, causing the bus to flip over on its side.