HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 19, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a ceremony at the Governor's residence today, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Secretary Leslie S. Richards joined other Pennsylvania school bus safety advocates to honor ten students for communicating important school bus safety messages, and six school bus drivers for their superior driving skills.
The students, in kindergarten through eighth grade, were recognized for their winning entries in the 2016 School Bus Safety Poster Contest. The theme for this year's contest, "#StopOnRed!" stressed an important safety message to help protect students waiting for and riding the bus.
Governor Tom Wolf proclaimed Oct. 17-21 as School Bus Safety Week in Pennsylvania, in conjunction with the national celebration.
"By taking part in the poster contest, these young artists use their talent and creativity to help us share important safety messages," said Richards. "This year's creations reinforce the importance of obeying Pennsylvania's School Bus Stopping Law and stopping when a bus has its red lights flashing and stop arm extended – a smart choice that can save lives."
This year's winners were chosen from 642 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, Richards and Lieutenant Robert Krol, director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Division in the Bureau of Patrol for the Pennsylvania State Police, presented certificates and Governor's citations to six school bus drivers for winning the 2016 Pennsylvania School Bus Driver Safety Competition. Held each June, the competition tests school bus drivers' knowledge of safety rules and safe operation of their buses.
"Bus drivers do an extraordinary job every day ensuring the safety of our children as they travel to and from school," said Krol. "These drivers serve as a model for all school bus drivers and this recognition further reinforces the trust parents have in them."
During the ceremony, Krol also announced that "Operation Safe Stop" will be conducted statewide today. 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 occurring on their routes and will file reports with local police.
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 a concrete barrier or grassy median.
In 2015, more than 700 motorists were convicted of violating Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law. The same year, there were 312 school bus crashes with no school bus passenger fatalities. School bus drivers in Pennsylvania travelled over 394 million miles during school year 2014/15, transporting more than 1.5 million students daily.
For more information about school bus safety, visit PennDOT's highway safety website, www.penndot.gov/safety, select the Traffic Safety and Driver Topics tab then select the School Bus Safety tab. The website also offers an interactive feature illustrating Pennsylvania's school bus stopping law.
2016 School Bus Safety Poster Contest Winners
Division 1 (Grades Kindergarten – 2)
1st Place: Keira Pritchett, Hershey Elementary School, Hershey, Dauphin County
2nd Place: Evelyn Nericcio, Saint Patrick School, Carlisle, Cumberland County
3rd Place: Grayson Myers, Elmwood Elementary School, Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County
Division Two (Grades 3 – 5)
1st Place: Hermiony Valdes, Fairview Elementary School, Lewisberry, York County
2nd Place: Micah Scott, The King's Academy, Mohrsville, Berks County
3rd Place: Erica Young, Freedom Area Elementary School, New Brighton, Beaver County
Division Three (Grades 6 – 8)
1st Place: Brynn Patchell, Reiffton School, Reading, Berks County
2nd Place: Angie Bu, Hershey Middle School, Hershey, Dauphin County
3rd Place: Tyler Minich, Lamberton School, Carlisle, Cumberland County
Division Four (Special Education)
1st Place: Sheryl Biju, Russell Elementary School, Broomall, Delaware County
2016 PA School Bus Driver Safety Competition Winners
First Place: Shannon O'Brien, Chester County; Krapf Bus Companies.
Second Place: George Soverns, Fayette County; Rittenhouse Bus Lines.
Third Place: Joan Oleski-Thomas, Chester County; Krapf Bus Companies.
Transit Style Bus
First Place: Philip Adam, Jr., Snyder County; Rohrer Bus Company.
Second Place: Michael Webster, Lebanon County; Brightbill Transportation.
Third Place: Ted Dubbs, Montgomery County; Lower Merion School District.
MEDIA CONTACT: Alexis Campbell, 717-787-0485
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/students-drivers-honored-at-pennsylvania-school-bus-safety-awards-300347649.html
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Transportation