PennDOT Honors Students, Drivers at School Bus Safety Awards Ceremony

Harrisburg – As part of National School Bus Safety Week, which runs through Oct. 22, PennDOT today recognized 12 students for helping to communicate important school bus safety messages and six school bus drivers for their superior driving skills during a ceremony in Harrisburg.

Governor Edward G. Rendell proclaimed Oct. 18-22 as School Bus Safety Week in Pennsylvania to coincide with the national observance.

The students, in kindergarten through eighth grade, were honored for their winning entries in the 2010 School Bus Safety Poster Contest. The theme for this year’s contest, “Be Aware – Know The Danger Zone,” stressed the need for students to be cautious and keep 10 feet from a school bus loading and unloading passengers.

“The poster contest provides students with a unique opportunity to learn and share important school bus safety messages while exploring their creativity, and having a little fun,” said PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E.

This year’s winners were chosen from nearly 700 public and private school student entries. The first-place entries will be forwarded to a national competition to be judged next month. During the ceremony, Janet L. Dolan, director of PennDOT’s Bureau of Driver Licensing, and Capt. Michael Patrick, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Safety Program Division, presented certificates and Governor’s citations to six school bus drivers for winning the 2010 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. “You are charged with an important role,” said Patrick. “Parents trust you to take their children to and from school every day – and do it safely. Your presence here today is testimony to the extraordinary job you are doing and serves as a model to all school bus drivers.”

This year’s state winner, Larry Hannon of Centennial School District, was also recognized for placing first overall in the 40th Annual International School Bus Driver Safety Competition held in July – his fourth such win in six years.

During the event, Patrick also announced that “Operation Safe Stop” will be conducted statewide on Oct. 19, uniting local and state law enforcement agencies, school districts and pupil transportation agencies 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 a report with local authorities. State law requires motorists approaching a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop arm extended to stop at least 10 feet from that 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; lanes of a divided highway are clearly separated by a divider such as concrete barriers or grassy medians.

In 2009, more than 850 motorists were convicted of violating Pennsylvania’s school bus stopping law. The same year, there were 414 school bus crashes resulting in four fatalities, including two school bus drivers. No school bus passengers were killed.

For more information about school bus safety, visit PennDOT’s highway safety website, and select “Traffic Safety Information Center,” then “School Bus Safety.” The website now offers an interactive feature illustrating Pennsylvania’s school bus stopping law to help motorists learn what to do when approaching or travelling behind a school bus.

A list of winners for the poster contest and driver safety competition follows.

2010 School Bus Safety Poster Contest Winners Division 1 (Grades Kindergarten – 2) First Place: Ivan Chen, William H. Ziegler Elementary School, Philadelphia Second Place: Graydon Dinsel, Pocopson Elementary School, West Chester, Chester County Third Place: Madeline Luxon, Elk Valley Elementary, Lake City, Erie County Division 2 (Grades 3 – 5) First Place: Emily Kastroll, Evans City Middle School, Evans City, Butler County Second Place: Nikki Miller, Evans City Middle School, Evans City, Butler County Third Place: Paul Pearce, Perkiomen Valley South Elementary School, Collegeville, Montgomery County Division 3 (Grades 6 – 8) First Place: Evan Peffer, Brownsville Area Middle School, Brownsville, Fayette County Second Place: Kelsey Kline, Mechanicsburg Middle School, Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County Third Place: Anthony Roman, William Penn Middle School, Yardley, Bucks County Division 4 (Special Education) First Place: Sean Rafferty, Evans City Middle School, Evans City, Butler County Second Place: Catherine Jicomelli, Wylandville Elementary, Eighty-Four, Washington County Third Place: Aaron Smith, Wylandville Elementary, Eighty-Four, Washington County 2010 PA School Bus Driver Safety Competition Winners Conventional First Place: Larry Hannon, Bucks County; Centennial School District Second Place: Janice Buckley, Chester County; Krapf Bus Companies Third Place: Steven Dilworth, Chester County; Eagle Wolfington Leasing Transit First Place: Arlen Sanden, Erie County; First Student Second Place: John Choffel Jr., Crawford County; Girardat, LP Third Place: Cheryl Vogelsang, Chester County; Eagle Wolfington Leasing

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