Richland rolling out new campaign to raise school bus safety awareness | Local News

As the new academic year approaches, the Richland School District is launching a new campaign to remind motorists of the rules of the road as they apply to school bus safety.

“It’s a matter of reeducation,” Superintendent Arnold Nadonley said.

That includes partnering with PennDOT for increased awareness and placing electronic message boards, as well as launching a multi-pronged social media campaign. Permanent signs also could be installed in the future.
Richland consistently has issues with drivers passing stopped school buses across the district, the school leader said.

But a roadway that experiences some of the worst offenders is Scalp Avenue, where several students are picked up and dropped off.

That’s because the thoroughfare is a five-lane roadway—four driving lanes and a turning lane in the middle.

The issue is that motorists continue to drive by when a bus is stopped in an opposing lane.

They should be stopping no matter where the bus driver is picking up or letting off students on Scalp Avenue.

Nadonley said he thinks travelers get confused on the definition of a divided roadway, and that’s why they continue to drive past the school vehicles.

If physical barriers, such as concrete median barriers, guide rails or grassy medians separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes don’t have to stop.

“The easiest way to explain is if a person can walk across the roadway, you need to stop,” said Thomas Prestash, PennDOT District 9 executive.

Because Scalp Avenue doesn’t have a continuous physical barrier, it’s not considered a divided roadway.

Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law includes stopping at least 10 feet away from school buses that have red lights flashing and the stop arm extended; when meeting a bus, behind a bus, approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped, or following or traveling alongside a school bus until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn and all children have reached safety; and not proceeding until all the children have reached a place of safety.

Failing to do so could lead to a 60-day driver’s license suspension, five points on a driving record and a $250 fine.

When motorists pass a stopped school bus with a side stop arm enforcement system and flashing red lights, there could be a $300 fine.

Nadonley said the district is also working with Richland Township and Geistown Borough to increase enforcement of stop arm violators. The district has about 125 violators per year.

Prestash approves of Richland’s approach, especially the social media aspect.

“I think it’s an excellent way of doing business,” Prestash said.

He noted that the PennDOT is “very active” with traveling motorists and wants to keep pedestrians – especially students now that classes are about to resume – as safe as possible.

One way to do that is partnering with stakeholders across the commonwealth, such as schools.

Prestash said Richland’s campaign is a good way to remind drivers of the rules and regulations of the road.

Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.

Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5054. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.