School Bus Safety Stressed as Kids Go Back to School

By Mallory Lane

Published 08/25 2014 05:33PM

Updated 08/25 2014 06:26PM

STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - It's that time of year again. We're going to start seeing a lot more of those big yellow buses on the road.

School is back in session already for a lot of kids across the region.

There are a lot of rules and etiquette to follow when it comes to school bus safety. If you don't, there could be serious consequences.

"When there is a flashing red light on a school bus and you're traveling in the same direction, you can't pass the school bus," State College Police Chief Tom King said. "If you're traveling in the opposite direction in a highway that's not divided with some barrier, you can't pass."

If you break one of these rules, you're breaking the law and that comes with some serious consequences, including a $250 fine and a 90-day license suspension.

Rules don't just apply to drivers. Bus operators said students need to remember some rules, too.

"Stay back away from the curb while they're waiting for their bus and watch for the bus to come," State College Area School District Transportation Supervisor Karen Mastin said. "Then, they can head toward the bus and get on, when all of the cars are stopped."

There's also something Mastin calls the "danger zone," which spans 10 feet all the way around the bus.

"Buses have mirrors, but they can't see, especially the small children," she said. "They don't want to walk right alongside the bus. Also, if they need to cross, they need to cross 10 feet in front of the bus."

State College Area School District has a five minute rule. That means students need to be waiting at the bus stop five minutes before their bus is scheduled to arrive, that way they're not running toward the bus last minute and possibly falling or getting hurt.

Mastin said once on the bus, kids need to stay seated with their hands to themselves and their voices down so they don't distract the driver.

"It's so important because there are no seat belts on the bus that they remain in their seats, on their bottom, we say," she said.

State College Police said it's also important to keep an eye out for those students who are walking to school as well. That includes college students, too.

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