(WHTM) — With students heading back to school in just a few short weeks, many people will be driving past school buses or traveling through school zones.

Because of this, motorists are reminded to slow down and pay attention to students who are walking to school, walking in a crosswalk, or getting on and off a school bus. If you drive recklessly, you may end up with a hefty fine or even a license suspension.

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According to the Pennsylvania Courts website, between the years 2017 and 2021 there were 26,671 drivers that were cited for school zone violations, or for overtaking or illegally passing a school bus across the state.

When it comes to overtaking or passing a school bus, Title 75 Section 3345 of the Pennsylvania Code states:

The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection at which a school bus is stopped shall stop his vehicle at that intersection until the flashing red signal lights are no longer actuated.

§ 3345.  Meeting or overtaking school bus.

When speeding in school zones, Title 75 Section 3365 of the Pennsylvania Code states:

When passing through a school zone as defined and established under regulations of the department, no person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than 15 miles per hour.

§ 3365.  Special speed limitations; Section B

Below is a chart of how many drivers were cited for school zone violations between the years 2017 and 2021 for counties in the Midstate.

CountyViolations Between 2017-2021
Adams312
Cumberland 316
Dauphin432
Franklin210
Juniata8
Lancaster 520
Lebanon165
Mifflin42
Perry13
York457
Title 75 School Zone violations issued from 1/1/2017 through 12/31/2021, as recorded in the
Magisterial District Judge System

According to PennDOT, the fine for speeding in a school zone is $35. An additional two dollars is added for each mile in excess of five miles per hour over the speed limit. A driver may be cited and receive a maximum fine of $500 and three points on their license if their speed is in excess of 11 mph over the limit. Subsequent offenses will result in a 60-day license.

For overtaking a school bus, the penalty is $250 plus 5 points on the license, a 60-day license suspension, and a surcharge of $35.

The only time you are allowed to pass a school bus is if there are physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails, or concrete median barriers that separate oncoming traffic from a bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping.

Pennsylvania State Police Troopers also encourage parents and caregivers to discuss the following safety tips with their children:

  • When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and line up at least five giant steps away from the curb or the roadway to wait for the bus.
  • Never run after the school bus if it has already left the bus stop.
  • Never push when getting on or off the school bus.
  • Always walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus when crossing so that the school bus driver can see you.
  • When the school bus is moving, always stay in your seat and never put your head, arms, or hands out of the window.
  • Never cross the street behind the school bus.
  • Never speak to strangers and never get into a car with a stranger.
  • If walking to school, wear bright-colored or reflective clothing and use crosswalks where available.