COVINGTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Across the country, at least five children are dead after crashes trying to get to or from their school buses last week.
In western Pennsylvania, a 7-year-old boy was hit and killed just steps from his bus stop.
"I see a lot of people on the phone, a lot of people texting, they have coffee in one hand, a phone on the other and steering with their knee so it's just a matter of people need to pay attention,” said John Cruger, a school bus driver in the North Pocono district.
There's even an online petition signed by nearly 130,000 people asking that children no longer have to cross roads to get on or off the school bus.
"It's scary because you don't know if they're texting, the drivers or what and you don't know if the schools are telling the kids to you know more safety as far as crossing or the kids are on their phones. Who knows?" said Roseanne LaRosa of Moscow, who has four children.
Under Pennsylvania law, unless there's a divided roadway with a barrier, drivers in both directions have to stop when a school bus puts out its flashing stop sign.
Last year, nearly 750 Pennsylvania drivers were convicted of violating school bus stop law.
"I think the biggest thing is put the cell phone down, whether it's our workers who are working on the side of the road with PennDOT or school bus drivers they say people are going by and they're on their cell phones not paying attention,” said PennDOT spokesman James May.
This year state lawmakers okayed a bill allowing school districts to install cameras to automatically photograph and ticket drivers who illegally pass buses.
The governor signed it into law two weeks ago.
"The stop arm legislation will take that onus off the driver and it'll be able for quicker prosecution,” said Aaron Sepkowski, who owns Pocono Transportation.
PA's School Bus Stopping Law (Courtesy: PennDOT)
- Motorists must stop at least 10 feet away from school buses that have their red lights flashing and stop arm extended.
- Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped.
- Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety.
- If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping.
- Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.
Penalties for Violating PA's SChool BUs Stopping Law
- $250 fine
- Five points on your driving record
- 60-day license suspension
For more information, review Pennsylvania's School Bus Stopping Law Fact Sheet.