HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Senate today unanimously passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) to enhance the safe transportation of school children by establishing new traffic rules and strengthening penalties for overtaking a school bus.
“Violators of school traffic laws are fundamentally guilty of one of two offenses – aggressive or distracted driving. Neither is defensible nor acceptable,” Baker said. “Deaths and injuries are entirely preventable.”
Senate Bill 897 extends the stopping distance requirement to 15 feet before reaching a school bus when the red signal lights on the bus are flashing and the side stop signal arm is activated.
“Pennsylvania is one of only a few states with a mere 10-foot stopping distance. Creating this extra buffer gives students more space to safely walk around the stopped bus and sends a message to motorists that this safety zone cannot be ignored,” Baker said.
For the first time, the law would include specific penalties for drivers who fail to proceed with caution or those who do not prepare to stop when a school bus has engaged its flashing amber lights.
The bill also creates increased penalties for repeat offenders of the school bus stopping law. Upon conviction for a subsequent offense, violators would be subject to the same driver’s license suspension and accumulation of points, plus an increased fine and completion of either a driver improvement school, or examination testing, as determined by PennDOT.
“As we observe National School Bus Safety Week, we are reminded there are too many reports of drivers ignoring the traffic safety laws regarding school zones and buses,” Baker said. “This measure is directed toward reversing this trend and providing for greater public safety.”
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.