(WHTM)– The first day after a time change is always an adjustment, especially for drivers, with it being lighter in the morning and pitch black by the evening, so what does that mean for school children and the rest of us who have to keep them safe?
That was one of the questions we asked this morning at a briefing about how something called “Operation Safe Stop” went this year.
“One student hurt is one too many,” PennDOT deputy secretary Kara Templeton. “With every violation of the school bus stopping law, there is the potential for disaster.”
And during last year’s one-day “Operation Safe Stop” police and school districts around Pennsylvania saw 252 violations. This year? 176 violations, which is a decrease of 30%.
That’s good – but leaders say to keep in mind, that these are just the violations they actually saw that day. The most egregious are people who pass a stopped school bus. The penalty for even a first offense of that.
“A 60-day driver’s license suspension, five points on their driving record and a $250 fine,” Pennsylvania State Police Corporal Zeina Black said.
Last year a couple hundred Pennsylvanians faced that penalty. In PA you have to stop at least ten feet from a bus. Is that enough?
“I don’t think ten feet’s enough,” State Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) said.
Baker introduced this bill that would increase the requirement to fifteen feet.
“Many other states across the country are much beyond the ten-foot level,” Baker said.
“If the data shows that it would be advantageous and it increases safety, then that would be something that we would support,” Templeton said.
The time change, meanwhile, means more light in the morning, but on the other hand…
“Students will be departing the buses sometimes as dusk is approaching in the evening time,” West Shore School District superintendent Dr. Todd Stoltz said.
No solid data on whether accidents increase the Monday after a time change – but…
“I would venture to say that everybody feels a little bit different the day after, whether we’re losing an hour or gaining an hour, it is a little different being out on the road,” Baker said.
We asked also whether the school bus driver shortage could impact safety. The answer? Yes, there are more new drivers.
“But the rigorous training that drivers go through in preparation to be on the road hasn’t changed,” Stoltz said. “So I think we’re putting qualified drivers out there.”
So if you have safe bus drivers and hopefully safer motorists the third leg of that safety school is safe children. Leaders say to make sure you teach your children bus stop safety, like no horseplay, and to wait for the bus to stop completely before stepping off the curb.