Illegal Passing: Real–Life Successes

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Pennsylvania Operation Safe Stop

Description/Activities

Pennsylvania Operation Safe Stop began in 1997. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) coordinates the program. The program’s partners, who meet a few times a year (at least once before and once after the kick–off 
program) include:

   • PennDOT

   • State highway safety office

   • Pennsylvania State Police

   • Chiefs of Police association

   • Pupil transportation association

   • State school transportation contracting association

   • Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials

They are still trying to get the District Justice Committee on board.

The Operation Safe Stop kick–off program is held during National School Bus Safety Week in October. Before the event, PennDOT sends a package to all school transportation directors, contractors, and law enforcement agencies who in turn contact local media and law enforcement and organize the school bus drivers.

On the day of the event, school bus drivers report violations. Law enforcement officers concentrate enforcement efforts on stop–arm violations. The media publicizes what is happening. In 1999, 150 of 500 school districts participated. PennDOT tracks the violations reported and the citations issued.

Noteworthy Aspects

1. Of the citations written, there is a 70 percent conviction rate as charged, amounting to over 1,000 convictions a year. This is significant because the penalty for the violation in Pennsylvania is hefty: a $100 fine, a 60–day mandatory driver license suspension with no allowance for an occupational limited license, and five points on the motorist’s license.

2. However, in some areas local law enforcement officers have dropped their efforts to enforce this law because magistrates won’t follow through with imposing the penalty.

Best Practices Guide: Reducing the Illegal Passing of School Buses