Students, Drivers Honored at Pennsylvania School Bus Safety Awards

Oct 17, 2012, 14:05 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

Governor Tom Corbett Proclaims Oct. 22-26 School Bus Safety Week in PA

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Twelve students and six school bus drivers from across the state were honored today for winning the 2012 School Bus Safety Poster Contest and the 2012 Pennsylvania School Bus Driver Safety Competition. 

The event, which took place at the Governor's Residence, was also held in recognition of Governor Tom Corbett's proclamation designating Oct. 22-26 as School Bus Safety Week in Pennsylvania. The same week has also been designated  National School Bus Safety Week.

"These creative young students are helping us communicate important safety messages through their posters," said Kurt Myers, PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Safety Administration. "Their creations are a reminder to all of us that exercising common sense around school buses can save young lives."

This year's contest theme, "Stand Back from the Yellow and Black," stressed the need for students to be cautious and stay a safe distance from the bus so that drivers can see them while loading and unloading. Students, kindergarten through eighth grade, were eligible to enter.

The winners were chosen from 475 public and private school student entries. The first-place entries will be forwarded to a national competition to be judged at the end of this month.

Also during today's ceremony, Myers and Cpl. Richard Koontz, Pennsylvania State Police Commercial Vehicle Safety Division's Permit and Bus Safety Unit Supervisor, presented certificates and Governor's citations to six school bus drivers for winning the 2012 Pennsylvania School Bus Driver Safety Competition.

The competition, held each June, tests school bus drivers' knowledge of safety rules and safe operation of their buses.

"Parents trust school bus drivers to take their children to and from school every day – and do it safely," said Koontz. "This recognition is testimony to the extraordinary job they are doing and serves as a model to all school bus drivers."

During the ceremony, Koontz also announced that "Operation Safe Stop" will be conducted statewide on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Local and state law enforcement agencies, school districts and student transportation agencies will unite to raise awareness of the consequences of improperly passing school buses.

Police officers will be watching for motorists who violate the school bus stopping law. If possible, school bus drivers will also document any illegal passes on their routes and will file reports with local police.

In 2011, nearly 750 motorists were convicted of violating Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law. The same year, there were 387 school bus crashes resulting in one fatality – a school bus driver. No school bus passengers were killed.

School bus drivers in Pennsylvania travelled more than 404 million miles during school year 2010-11, transporting more than 1.5 million students daily.

State law requires motorists approaching a school bus, with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended, to stop at least 10 feet from the bus. Motorists approaching from all directions are required to stop. However, motorists who encounter a school bus stopping on the opposite side of a divided highway are not required to stop when lanes of the highway are clearly separated by a divider such as concrete barriers or grassy medians.

For more information about school bus safety, visit PennDOT's highway safety website, and select the School Bus Safety link under the Traffic Safety Information Center.

The website also offers an interactive feature illustrating Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law.

Media contacts:
Jan McKnight, 717-787-0485
Craig Yetter, 717-705-1092

Editor's Note: The following is a list of winners of the poster contest and driver safety competition, below that is the text of the Governor's proclamation for School Bus Safety Week.

2012 School Bus Safety Poster Contest Winners

Division 1 (Grades Kindergarten – 2)
First Place: Taryn Hughes, Frances Willard Elementary School, Scranton, Lackawana County
Second Place: Riya Kinny, K.D. Markley Elementary School, Malvern, Chester County
Third Place: Michaela Tseng, K.D. Markley Elementary School, Malvern, Chester County

Division 2 (Grades 3-5)
First Place: Thalia C. Irofuala, Smithfield Elementary School, East Stroudsburg, Monroe County
Second Place: Alexis Ky, Bradford Woods Elementary School, Bradford Woods, Allegheny County
Third Place: Mia Angela Davis, Swarthmore-Rutledge School, Swarthmore, Delaware County

Division 3 (Grades 6-8)
First Place: Adriana Sypin, Rolling Ridge Elementary School, Erie, Erie County
Second Place: Tiffani McCarthy, Brockway Area Junior/Senior High School, Brockway, Jefferson County
Third Place: Charles David Peters, Rolling Ridge Elementary School, Erie, Erie County

Division 4 (Special Education)
First Place: Ashton Burget, Central Dauphin East High School, Harrisburg, Dauphin County
Second Place: Spencer Grab, Central Dauphin East High School, Harrisburg, Dauphin County 
Third Place: Zachery Cable, Brockway Area Junior/Senior High School, Brockway, Jefferson County 

2012 PA School Bus Driver Safety Competition Winners

Conventional Bus
First Place: Larry Hannon, Centennial School District; Bucks County;
Second Place: John Welsh, Lower Merion School District; Montgomery County
Third Place: Sharon Brown, Krapf Bus Companies; Chester County

Transit Bus
First Place: Cheryl Vogelsang, Eagle Wolfington Leasing; Chester County
Second Place: Ray Rogers, Central Bucks School District; Bucks County
Third Place: John Choffel Jr., Girardat, LP; Crawford County

Text of Governor's proclamation:

SCHOOL BUS SAFETY WEEK, October 22-26, 2012

WHEREAS, The safety of all Pennsylvania school students is a concern of the highest consequence, and all highway users should unite in the safe sharing of roadways throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and

WHEREAS, school bus drivers dutifully transported over 1.5 million school students to and from school daily across the Commonwealth last year. The Commonwealth's 44,000-plus licensed school bus drivers traveled more than 404 million miles last school year; and

WHEREAS, it is especially important that the citizens of our Commonwealth be aware of school buses on the streets and highways and recognize the importance of staying alert, practicing safe driving techniques, and obeying existing traffic laws to protect the safety of our school aged children.

THEREFORE, in recognition of the importance of school bus safety on our Commonwealth's roads and highways, I, Tom Corbett, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hereby proclaim October 22-26, 2012, SCHOOL BUS SAFETY WEEK in Pennsylvania. I encourage all motorists to continue their efforts to promote safety and school bus awareness and all drivers to share the road and respect the unique needs of school buses.

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Transportation