School is back in session and Pennsylvania authorities are wasting no time reminding drivers they need to slow down and use caution in school zones, and especially when school buses are loading or unloading passengers. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (and Pennsylvania state law) drivers who violate the minimum safe stopping distance in front of and behind a school bus loading or unloading students, risk a traffic citation and fine up to $250, plus five points on their license and the possibility of a 60-day suspension of their driving privileges.

According to PennDOT there is ample reason for their recent warnings:

“Our ultimate goal is to make sure everyone safely arrives at their destination,” said PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch. “Motorists should avoid distractions and obey school bus and school zone traffic laws so we have the safest possible environment for students boarding and exiting buses.”

School buses are arguably not the safest vehicles for transporting students as it is. When you add into the mix impatient drivers who feel the urge to throw caution to the wind when approaching school buses and attempt to go around them, they become even more dangerous.

There is no good reason for passing a stopped school bus. Regardless of the situation, the law states quite clearly that drivers are not permitted to pass stopped school buses, and there are plenty of good reasons for this. Namely, that children are likely entering or exiting the bus and their behavior is completely unpredictable. kids tend to dart in front of traffic because they fail to recognize the dangers inherent in a speeding car. The fact is, kids just are not experienced enough, smart enough, to know they can’t walk in front of traffic.

For drivers the responsibility is their to be aware that stopping for a school bus is not only the law, it’s also a great way to show respect for the children of your community.