POLICE WITH YOUTH—Pittsburgh police not only stopped traffic, but they also walked with youth during the march. (Photos by J. L. Martello)

POLICE WITH YOUTH—Pittsburgh police not only stopped traffic, but they also walked with youth during a recent march. (Photos by J. L. Martello/File)

PITTSBURGH, PA – With the start of the school year on Monday August 29,  the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police will be conducting a two-week proactive “Back to School Highway Safety Initiative” to help ensure our children make it to and from school in a safe manner. Motorcycle officers and traffic officers will be out in full force to help ensure motorists obey the 15 MPH school zone speed and properly stop for school buses using red flashing lights.

Commander Ed Trapp advises that our message is simple – “Members of the Pittsburgh Police will take the necessary measures to help protect our children. We will continuously enforce school zone violations throughout the City to ensure all students arrive at school safely. Motorists are reminded to drive with care, remain alert and obey all laws when driving through school zones or approaching a school bus that is picking up or dropping off children.”

Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law requires motorists to stop at least 10 feet away from school buses that have their red lights flashing and stop arm extended. Motorists must stop when they are behind the bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped. Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety. If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping. Drivers who violate the law face the following penalties: 60-day driver’s license suspension, 5 points on your driving record and a $250.00 fine.

Commander Trapp also advised that “as children head back to school, the community will see an increased officer presence. School crossing guards, bus drivers and other school officials are also keeping an eye out for our children and will relay information regarding violators to officers accordingly.”

Tips for Motorists

No matter if you have children in school or not, safety is everyone’s responsibility. Motorists must pay attention to the task at hand, and that means slowing down in school zones, and watching for children and bicyclists. Younger children aren’t able to judge speed and distance as well as adults so it’s the responsibility of drivers to be alert.

Motorists:

  • Slow down and obey all traffic laws and speed limits; pay attention to school zones.
  • When a school bus is stopped and red flashers are on, drivers in both directions are required to stop before reaching the bus and remain stopped until the flashing lights are turned off.
  • Watch for children walking or bicycling in the street and for youngsters gathering near bus stops.
  • When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, look for children walking or biking to school
  • Don’t drive distracted (putting on makeup, texting, talking on the phone, etc.)
  • Don’t drive impaired
  • Always use your seatbelt

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