Investigations

School district changes bus stop after abc27 Investigation

LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) - abc27 Investigators looked into concerns over school bus stops along Creekside Drive in North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County.

"It's against state law," said Trey Jackson.

Jackson spent 20 years in public education and taught drivers education. He says bus stops along Creekside Drive are unsafe because the road has a median, making it a "separate roadway." Under Pennsylvania law, cars traveling on the other side are not required to stop when a school bus has flashing lights activated.

So when Jackson saw students getting off the bus and walking to the other side of the road, he was concerned they could get hit.

"I want to make sure students are safe as well as drivers," Jackson said.

When he raised his concerns with the Cornwall-Lebanon School District, he was told the stop is "perfectly legal".

abc27 News found the district treated the stop differently for younger students. School buses for elementary school students go up both sides of the road to drop off and pick up, so the students never have to cross the road.

"It's a cherry-picking of the laws," said Jackson

The buses are operated by Brightbill Transportation. In an email to Jackson, a manager said the stops are situated at the breaks in the road, therefore traffic on the other side must stop.

"Talking to Pennsylvania State Police, they said no," Jackson said.

abc27 reached out to the North Cornwall police chief who said under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code, Creekside Drive is a divided roadway and opposing traffic does not have to stop. He also said there were no reports of any close calls or accidents at bus stops along Creekside Drive.

What about the breaks in the road? Under Chapter 104 of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, if a bus loading zone on a separate roadway is at or near an intersection it must have a traffic signal or a stop sign. Creekside Drive does not.

"I would like to see equitable application of the law, " Jackson said.

abc27 reached out the Cornwall-Lebanon School District which said it would review the stop. It still believes the stop meets the requirements of the Vehicle Code but has made some changes. 

"CLSD administrators have completed their review of the Creekside bus route and agree that while drivers are required by law to stop when a school bus has activated its flashing lights at any type of intersection, safety can be enhanced at the bus stops in that development. Our transportation company has been directed to adjust bus routes to enable door-side bus stops on Creekside Drive. All affected student families will be directly notified by the district of their new assigned stops which will take effect this week," said Philip Domencic, superintendent of the Cornwall-Lebanon School District.

abc27 reached out to other experts in this field who agreed the design of Creekside Drive could make interpretation of the law challenging.

Most school districts review bus routes every year with the help of local law enforcement. Those routes are then approved by the school board.


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