Some may wonder why we, along with state and local law enforcement agencies, regularly issue traffic safety reminders. Aren’t most of them just common sense?
Well, unfortunately, that’s not often the case. Too many drivers continue to commit offenses that put their colleagues, pedestrians and others at risk.
Look no further than new figures on violations of the law with illegal passing of school buses and speeding in school zones. This is a serious problem here in this region.
When it comes to speeding in school zones, Montgomery County drivers accounted for 31.3% of all violations in Pennsylvania over the past five years, according to new data released by the Pennsylvania Administrative Office of the Courts.
From 2017 to 2021, law enforcement in Montgomery County issued a whopping 5,308 citations, nearly 1 in 3 violations in the state. During the same period, Chester County had 3.2% of violations. Berks had 2.89% of violations, Bucks had 11.6% and Delaware County had 7.9%.
Pennsylvania law requires motorists to drive no faster than 15 mph in a school zone. The reason for this is obvious. During the day, when children come and go from school, there is a constant flow of pedestrians on the busy streets. Motorists should exercise extreme caution.
When it comes to illegally running a school bus with a red light and extended brake light, Montgomery County drivers accounted for 13% of the violations in the state, second only to Allegheny County. Chester County drivers accounted for just over 6% of violations, while Berks drivers accounted for 4.2%. Delaware County had 6% violations and Bucks County had 7% violations.
Pennsylvania law requires motorists approaching school buses with red lights on to stop at least 10 feet from the bus and wait for the bus’s signals to turn off.
Over the past five years (2017-2021), state officials said drivers violating traffic laws in Pennsylvania’s two school zones were pulled over more than 26,671 times.
We hope that these numbers will serve as a valuable reminder to drivers around the world as school begins. Getting a ticket is bad enough. It is much worse to risk tragedy.
It’s not the only road safety issue drivers are paying attention to this summer.
Police in the town of Exeter conducted enforcement detail along Route 422 to remind motorists that emergency vehicles are legal.
The moving law is designed to protect emergency workers, including those who provide towing and roadside assistance services. The law defines an emergency response zone as an area in which an emergency vehicle’s lights are flashing or where road crews or emergency personnel are flashing warning lights, posting signs or attempting to warn travelers.
Drivers should pull into the lane away from the response area to create a cushion between moving vehicles and workers on scene. If traffic does not permit a change of speed, drivers should slow down, but not more than 20 miles per hour below the speed limit to avoid creating another hazard.
The good news is that the vast majority of drivers seem to have at least attempted to comply with the Pennsylvania Moving Law when they see an SUV hitched to the back of a tow truck on the side of the highway.
But not everyone does. In the first half of 2022, accidents at emergency response sites claimed the lives of 32 workers, said Chris Kershner of the Traffic Safety Network. This includes an incident on March 21, when two state police officers with ties to our region were killed on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia while placing a pedestrian in their patrol car.
Ed Hooker, AAA’s motorist services manager, said it’s shocking how many drivers don’t pay attention to what’s happening on the road while driving over 60 miles per hour.
It is obviously impossible to issue too many reminders of people’s responsibilities to themselves, their passengers and everyone else on the road.