PennDOT and Shapiro Administration Honor School Bus Safety Week

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Today, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Driver and Vehicle Services Director of the Bureau of Driver Licensing Dios Arroyo joined the Pennsylvania State Police and Pennsylvania school bus safety advocates to honor nine students for communicating important school bus safety messages through their submissions to this year’s School Bus Safety Poster Contest and to recognize three school bus drivers for their superior driving skills.

The ceremony complemented the Shapiro Administration’s work to support and enhance Pennsylvanians’ safety, including Governor Shapiro proclaiming October 16-20 School Bus Safety Week in Pennsylvania in conjunction with the federal observance. The week recognizes the potential to save young lives by raising awareness of the daily challenges faced by students being transported throughout the commonwealth.

“Students’ return to school has meant the return of school buses to our highways, and the Shapiro Administration is focused on everyone getting home safely,” said PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll. “School Bus Safety Week gives us all an opportunity to pause and realize just how much our own actions behind the wheel can affect our most precious asset – our children.”

The students, in kindergarten through eighth grade, were recognized for their winning entries in the 2023 School Bus Safety Poster Contest. The theme for this year’s contest – “Safely Rolling To My Destination” – reminds everyone of the important relationship between students and their school bus drivers, who are responsible stewards of our children as they deliver them safely to and from school and school-related events.

“By using their talent and creativity, these young artists help us share important safety messages through their creations,” said Arroyo. “This year’s entries reinforce the importance of school bus drivers in delivering students to and from school safely and the role they play in students’ well-being every day.”

This year’s winners were chosen from 127 student entries from schools across Pennsylvania. The first-place entries will move on to the national competition, which will be judged at the end of this month.

2023 School Bus Safety Poster Contest Winners include:

Kindergarten – Grade 2

1st Place: Ananyasri Boddupalli, Franklin Elementary School, Sewickley, Allegheny County

2nd Place: Sophia Stroman, Gwynedd Square Elementary School, Lansdale, Montgomery County

3rd Place: Lorelei Troutman, Gwynedd Square Elementary School, Lansdale, Montgomery County

Grades 3-5

1st Place: Ava Tsao, Marshall Elementary School, Wexford, Butler County

2nd Place: Emina Bernice George Michle, Gwynedd Square Elementary School, Lansdale, Montgomery County

3rd Place: Mya Carter, Sugar Valley Charter School, Loganton, Clinton County

Grades 6-8

1st Place: Arjun Kairi, Boyce Middle School, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County

2nd Place: Alexionna Kephart, Bald Eagle Area School District, Wingate, Centre County

3rd Place: Musfika Turi, Oak Park Elementary School, Lansdale, Montgomery County

There were no qualifying entries submitted this year for the Special Education and Computer Aided categories.

Templeton and Sgt. Michael Pavelko, Division Supervisor for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Division of the Bureau of Patrol for the Pennsylvania State Police, presented certificates and small gifts provided by the Pennsylvania School Bus Association to the students in recognition of their efforts to help communicate this important safety message.

Time was also taken during the ceremonies to recognize the winners of the 2023 Pennsylvania statewide school bus competition, held June 24-25 at Mount Nittany Middle School in State College. The event hosted more than 30 drivers locked in competition to determine the top school bus drivers in the state. The winners in the conventional bus category this year were: First place – Tara Herman with Krise Transportation in Chester County; Second place – Ruth Del Vecchio with Krapf School Bus in Chester County; and Third place – Patricia Carey with Krapf School Bus in Chester County. This year’s competition was the first to be held in three years. There was no competition for the Transit style buses this year.

“Bus drivers do an extraordinary job every day ensuring the safety of our children as they travel to and from school,” said Sgt. Pavelko. “Their continuing dedication to the safe delivery of their precious cargo reinforces the trust parents have in them.”

The ceremony built on safety initiatives across the state. As part of School Bus Safety Week and in a collective effort to enhance students’ safety, local and state law enforcement agencies, school districts and student transportation agencies united for one day last week to raise awareness of the consequences of improperly passing school buses through “Operation Safe Stop,” a safety initiative conducted statewide. Police officers watched for motorists who violated the school bus stopping law. School bus drivers also documented 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 a divider, such as concrete barriers or grassy medians, clearly separates lanes of the highway.

In 2022, more than 500 motorists were convicted of violating Pennsylvania’s school bus stopping law. One hundred forty-eight law enforcement agencies and 45 school districts combined efforts last year to report violators of the School Bus Stopping Law during Operation Safe Stop. School bus drivers in Pennsylvania traveled over 412 million miles during school year 2021/22, transporting more than 1.4 million students daily.

For more information about school bus safety, visit PennDOT the School Bus Safety page on its highway safety website.