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Save a life, obey traffic laws around school buses: Police

Brandon Addeo
York Dispatch
School buses parked in Helena, Mont., ahead of the beginning of the school year, Friday, Aug. 20, 2021.

As students file into school buses for the new school year, police are reminding motorists to protect children by following bus safety laws. 

In 2020, law enforcement in York County pulled over 23 people for speeding in a school zone and cited another 36 for illegally passing a stopped school bus, according to data from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. 

According to the AOPC, school-related traffic violations dropped sharply between 2019 and the pandemic year of 2020, when citations declined 62%. 

This graphic lists statistics for school bus violations in Pennsylvania between 2016 and 2020.

Still, local law enforcement says violations are prevalent and issued a warning to motorists. 

"We have had a lot of reports in the previous years of people passing busses with their red lights illuminated," the Carroll Township Police Department posted in a written statement. "When this happens, we conduct our follow up and, at times, cite the driver."

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Fairview Township Police Department, in a written statement, said they take school bus violations "very seriously and will enforce this law aggressively."  

"It involves the safety of our children," according to the statement. 

Pennsylvania law prohibits drivers from passing a stopped school bus with flashing red lights and an extended "stop" sign. That goes for both drivers behind a bus and those approaching from the opposite direction. If a bus is stopped at an intersection, all drivers at the intersection must also remain stopped until the bus departs. 

These PennDOT graphics depict situations involving stopped school buses to show when motorists must stop and when they may continue driving.

The only time drivers don't need to stop for a stopped bus is on a roadway with a clearly defined barrier, like a concrete or grass median. Drivers traveling the same direction as the bus must stop, but those traveling the opposite direction on the divided highway can continue.

Under state law, someone who passes a stopped school bus can be fined up to $250, get a 60-day driver's license suspension and accumulate five points on their license. 

READ MORE: 'I own you': The brutal history of York County's prison contractor