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Police warn drivers to stop for school buses

The City of Bethlehem Police Department has issued a public service announcement warning motorists to #StopForTheBus this back-to-school season. Starting this summer, police will use school bus stop-arm cameras to capture and enforce illegal passings.

Under Pennsylvania law, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing and stop-arm deployed. Motorists must stop 10 feet away when they are behind or meeting the bus. The penalty for a first-time violation is a $300 fine.

The department has partnered with Bethlehem Area School District and BusPatrol to expand enforcement of the Bethlehem School Bus Safety Program. Stop-arm cameras affixed to the entire fleet of Bethlehem district fleet capture the license plates of vehicles that illegally pass stopped school buses. This footage is shared with local law enforcement for review. If a violation has occurred, the registered vehicle owner will receive a citation in the mail.

Earlier this year, Bethlehem City Council approved a memorandum of understanding allowing the police to enforce violations. BASD modernized its entire fleet with BusPatrol automated enforcement technology last school year. The city is the largest jurisdiction in the district to join the program, bringing the total district roads enforced to about 90 percent.

Since August 2022, more than 800 motorists illegally passed a stopped school bus in the district.

Bethlehem Police Lieutenant William Audelo said, “Failing to stop for a school bus is one of the most dangerous traffic violations we see, yet one of the most difficult to enforce. This extra layer of enforcement will curb reckless motorist behavior and keep our kids safe as they travel to and from school.”

BusPatrol spokesperson Kate Spree said, “BusPatrol’s School Bus Safety Program is proven to curb illegal motorist behavior around school buses. We’ve seen violations decline by up to 30% year-over-year in communities that implement this technology. Once people know the law is enforced, they stop passing, and students are safer.”

BusPatrol has more than 30 partnerships across Pennsylvania with technology deployed across a growing fleet of more than 2,500 buses. This includes Allentown, Northwestern Lehigh, Catasauqua Area, Wilson Area, Salisbury Township, and, most recently, Pittsburgh Public Schools.

To learn more about the Bethlehem School Bus Safety Program, go to basdschools.org/Page/1497.

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