The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), the Ferguson Township Police Department, and the Highway Safety Network gathered for a press conference Monday and stressed the dangers of aggressive driving.
Aggressive driving behaviors like speeding, tailgating, and red light running contribute significantly to highway crashes and fatalities. To curb these behaviors, PSP and local police statewide conduct high visibility enforcement details several times a year, with the current wave underway through Sunday, Nov. 12.
“Aggressive driving crashes increased by more than 1,000 between 2021 and 2022,” said PSP Troop G Community Services Officer Jake Rhymestine.
“Our goal when participating in these waves is to get that number trending in the other direction. Do yourselves and your fellow drivers a favor by slowing down and keeping each other safe.”
Rhymestine said he has heard about an alarming increase in School Bus Stopping Law violations while speaking to the bus companies in his jurisdiction.
He reminded drivers that the law requires them to stop at least 10 feet from buses with their red lights flashing and stop arm extended.
He said that the Pennsylvania Senate referred Senate Bill 897 to the House Transportation Committee on Thursday, Oct. 19, and, if passed, it would increase that to at least 15 feet away.
Rhymestine also noted that the General Assembly recently approved legislation preserving the use of cameras on school bus stop-arms to fine motorists who ignore those signs.
The fine for such a violation now stands at $300, with $250 going to the school to maintain the cameras, $25 to the local police department, and $25 to fund a grant program for school bus safety.
Rhymestine said motorists meeting or overtaking a stopped bus or approaching an intersection with a stopped bus must stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the bus driver withdraws the stop arm, and all children have reached safety.
If a physical barrier such as a grassy median, guide rail, or concrete median separates oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping.
In addition to cracking down on School Bus Stopping Law Violations, Ferguson Township Police Sgt. Ryan Hendrick said law enforcement is watching for drivers violating the Move Over Law during the wave.
He said the law requires drivers approaching an emergency response area who are unable to safely merge into a lane farther away from the response area to “pass the emergency response area at a speed of no more than 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit and reasonable for safely passing.”
He explained an emergency response area is where an emergency vehicle has its lights flashing or where road crews or emergency responders have lighted flares, posted signs or are trying to warn travelers.
Hendrick noted that changes enacted to the law in 2021 included a new point system that imposes two points for failure to merge into the lane not next to the emergency response area.
Changes also set fines at $500 for first-time offenders, $1,000 for a second offense, and $2,000 for a third or subsequent offense. Third or subsequent offenses also require a 90-day license suspension.
According to 2022 PennDOT data, there were 7,248 aggressive driving crashes that resulted in 119 fatalities. There were 6,206 aggressive driving crashes in 2021 that resulted in 126 lives lost.
For more information on the dangers and consequences of aggressive driving, visit www.PennDOT.pa.gov/Safety
For regional traffic updates, follow www.twitter.com/511PAStateCOLL.