(WBNG Binghamton) Twelve students and six school bus drivers from across the state were honored today for winning the 2012 School Bus Safety Poster Contest and the 2012 Pennsylvania School Bus Driver Safety Competition.
According to a news release:
The event, which took place at the Governor's Residence, was also held in recognition of Governor Tom Corbett's proclamation designating Oct. 22-26 as School Bus Safety Week in Pennsylvania. The same week has also been designated National School Bus Safety Week.
"These creative young students are helping us communicate important safety messages through their posters," said Kurt Myers, PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Safety Administration. "Their creations are a reminder to all of us that exercising common sense around school buses can save young lives."
This year's contest theme, "Stand Back from the Yellow and Black," stressed the need for students to be cautious and stay a safe distance from the bus so that drivers can see them while loading and unloading. Students, kindergarten through eighth grade, were eligible to enter.
The winners were chosen from 475 public and private school student entries. The first-place entries will be forwarded to a national competition to be judged at the end of this month.
Also during today's ceremony, Myers and Cpl. Richard Koontz, Pennsylvania State Police Commercial Vehicle Safety Division's Permit and Bus Safety Unit Supervisor, presented certificates and Governor's citations to six school bus drivers for winning the 2012 Pennsylvania School Bus Driver Safety Competition.
The competition, held each June, tests school bus drivers' knowledge of safety rules and safe operation of their buses.
"Parents trust school bus drivers to take their children to and from school every day - and do it safely," said Koontz. "This recognition is testimony to the extraordinary job they are doing and serves as a model to all school bus drivers."
During the ceremony, Koontz also announced that "Operation Safe Stop" will be conducted statewide on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Local and state law enforcement agencies, school districts and student transportation agencies will unite to raise awareness of the consequences of improperly passing school buses.
Police officers will be watching for motorists who violate the school bus stopping law. If possible, school bus drivers will also document any illegal passes on their routes and will file reports with local police.
In 2011, nearly 750 motorists were convicted of violating Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law. The same year, there were 387 school bus crashes resulting in one fatality - a school bus driver. No school bus passengers were killed.
School bus drivers in Pennsylvania travelled more than 404 million miles during school year 2010-11, transporting more than 1.5 million students daily.
State law requires motorists approaching a school bus, with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended, to stop at least 10 feet from the bus. Motorists approaching from all directions are required to stop. However, motorists who encounter a school bus stopping on the opposite side of a divided highway are not required to stop when lanes of the highway are clearly separated by a divider such as concrete barriers or grassy medians.