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School districts take part in 'Operation Safe Stop'

ADAMS TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- For the 17th year in a row, school districts across the state were participating in Operation Safe Stop Wednesday. It's an initiative by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to help raise awareness about school bus safety, particularly when it comes to motorists passing school buses that are stopped to pick up kids.

As part of national school bus safety week Miller Motor Company and the Forest Hills School District invited our 6 News to ride along a bus route Wednesday morning.

The middle and high school students boarding the bus weren't so thrilled to see the cameras at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, but their bus driver, Marie Plummer, was was rearing and ready to go like she has every day for the past 21 years.

"I like getting out and I like the kids and everything," said Plummer. "Sometimes it's just like any other job where you have your good days and bad days."

Plummer is responsible for making at least 50 stops twice a day, picking up and dropping off over 100 kids, all while keeping an eye on them, the road and other drivers.

"Sometimes they just try to beat those yellows," said Plummer. "They know I'm there but they go right on by."

It's that issue officials are once again trying to draw attention during national School Bus Safety Week.

"We strictly ask the drivers, do not pass the bus and pay attention to the bus," said Adams Township Police Chief Kirk Moss. "We found out riding along with the drivers that they have a lot on their minds also."

"When the lights comes on, the yellow lights, it's time for caution, you need to be aware and slow down," said Joe Gironda, transportation coordinator for the school district. "Obviously when the red lights start to flash, you need to stop."

And in Pennsylvania the law says you have to stop at least 10 feet away from a stopped school buses with red lights flashing and stop arms extended.

While police say they'll continue to monitor bus routes, they hope drivers will continue to follow the law.

"In the mornings it's time to get the kids to school and even though individuals have to get to work, you don't want to cause problems for anyone else. No one wants to harm a child," said Gironda. "We ask drivers to continue to do what (they're) doing. We have very few violations each year and we hope to keep it that way."

PennDot says just because there are not any cops around, doesn't mean a driver will get off the hook for passing a stopped bus. They're now equipped with cameras and bus drivers are trained to mark down the license plates of those vehicles that break the law. Those who do could be faced with a $250 fine and 5 points on their license.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times