EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Drivers who pass stopped school buses in Pennsylvania will face more severe penalties if legislation approved by the State Senate becomes law.
Senator Lisa Baker from Luzerne County sponsored the Bill which also increases safety zones around stopped school buses.
A warning for drivers who pass stopped school buses in the Commonwealth, don’t do it. You could face penalties and even lose your license.
Most importantly you place children in danger.
Senator Baker says an I-Team report that showed a close call with a vehicle and a child was a factor in her introducing the legislation.
That close call and others here on Coal Street were highlighted in a series of I-Team reports in recent months in fact, this large electronic sign was put up to warn drivers to pay attention because the lives of children are at stake.
That close call was recorded by Alison Wynder last March as she walked her seven-year-old son to a bus stop at Coal Street and Empire Court her son suffered minor injuries but she says it could have been deadly.
“Nobody stops at the bus stop it doesn’t either way up the middle at the red light people are still running past the bus stop they don’t even care about the kids being around it’s scary for the kids and parents,” said Wynder.
Wynder has been posting close calls on social media trying to put a spotlight on the problem. We highlighted her recorded close calls with our I-Team reporters and State Senator Lisa Baker said the video caught her eye.
She introduced Senate Bill 897 which increases penalties for drivers who pass stopped school buses.
“We are adding additional penalties, particularly for repeat offenders and we’re going to have the ability if someone is a repeat offender to send them back to school for additional training and they could lose their license,” explained State Senator Baker.
The new law would also increase fines from the current $250 dollars to $500 dollars and extend the distance from 10 to 15 feet for vehicles to stop from a school bus. Janelle and Matthew Davison operate Student Transportation of America which transports thousands of students in northeastern Pennsylvania.
“I think it will make a difference. It will help the vehicle stop further away from the school bus and give the children more room to cross the street absolutely it will make a difference. The difficult part is getting the word out to the drivers and educating them on what the new laws are,” added Janelle.
“How many close calls have you seen out there? ” asked 28/22 News.
“Oh, there’s plenty of close calls, especially in the past two years or so after COVID-19 I say the change happened drivers are more reckless less careful around school buses,” answered Matthew.
The Davisons say there is no way to track the number of close calls because they often happen so quickly. Senator Baker says that a member of her staff had two close calls at school bus stops with her two young daughters.