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Pennsylvania General Assembly Acts to Extend School Bus Stop-Arm Camera Program

In a proactive move aimed at enhancing the safety of schoolchildren, the Pennsylvania General Assembly has taken significant steps to preserve the use of cameras installed on school bus stop-arms. This measure comes just in time, as the authorization for these crucial cameras was set to expire on October 24. The program employs these cameras to penalize motorists who disregard the school bus stop signs, with a fine of $300. Of this amount, $250 is allocated to the school for camera maintenance, $25 goes to the local police department, and an additional $25 is dedicated to a school bus safety grant program.

The House of Representatives made its decision on Wednesday, voting 178-25 in favor of Senate Bill 851, following unanimous support from the Senate earlier in the month. Initially, these cameras were introduced as part of a five-year pilot program to improve safety, an initiative endorsed by PennDOT officials.

PennDOT Secretary Michael Carroll expressed concern during a September hearing about the increasing number of instances where drivers made poor decisions, endangering the lives of construction workers, schoolchildren, cyclists, and pedestrians. This underscores the pressing need for enhanced safety measures around school buses.

The newly approved bill also ensures that motorists have the right to appeal fines. Vehicle owners will not be held liable if they were not the driver or if the camera was found to be out of compliance in terms of accuracy, certification, or calibration. Additionally, a thorough police review is mandated to confirm any violations.

Pennsylvania witnesses several incidents each year where children are at risk while boarding school buses. For instance, in Slippery Rock, an 11-year-old was tragically injured when a driver ran her over as she crossed the street, despite the bus being at a complete stop with its stop sign extended and lights activated. In another devastating incident in October 2022, an 11th-grade girl in York County lost her life in a hit-and-run as she was boarding her school bus. December 2022 saw the tragic death of a 16-year-old girl in Erie County when a car struck her while she attempted to board her school bus. Unfortunately, there have been numerous other cases where children have been injured or killed while waiting at their bus stops.

In February 2023, a 6-year-old girl in Westmoreland County was fatally injured while waiting for her bus. December 2022 saw a student in Cambria County injured while waiting for the bus, following a collision between a car and a postal truck in heavy fog. In York County, a driver struck another student while biking to school, just two weeks after the tragic incident that took the life of one of their fellow students. Incidents of students being injured on their way to school have also occurred in Butler County, Berks County, and Westmoreland County.

Multiple factors have contributed to these accidents, including speeding, inadequate road design with a shortage of crosswalks, and a lack of crossing guards. The Pennsylvania General Assembly’s extension of the school bus stop-arm camera program is a crucial step towards addressing these safety concerns and protecting the lives of the state’s schoolchildren.

Comments

Samuel R Welsh 1945-2024

Samuel was an avid sportsman all his life and enjoyed both playing sports and watching them on the television. He enjoyed playing golf.

Betty Marie Miller 1937-2024

Betty worked for 36 years in the Alumni office of The Mercersburg Academy. She enjoyed travel, knitting, and spending time with family and friends.

M Marie Trostle 1919-2024

She enjoyed sewing, baking, cooking, babysitting and crocheting. She especially enjoyed quilting, where she made over 40 quilts and gave them to her family.

John Harvey Hoffman 1941-2024

John enjoyed target shooting, fishing and was known for telling great stories. He was also very proud of his family and enjoyed spending as much time with them as possible.

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