New call center for Bethlehem Area School District busing in the works


Some students in Berks County will return to the classroom just a few days from now, so bus drivers are gearing up for the start of the school year. It's arguably one of the most important jobs in a school district.

School bus drivers are tasked with getting that precious cargo to and from school every day, and they said they need your help to do it safely.

Benjamin Bernhart is the assistant transportation supervisor for the Exeter Township School District. He also drives when necessary. He's reminding drivers that the season of stopping for buses is upon us.

"In both lanes, people are required to stop when the school bus sign is out," Bernhart said. "The amber warning systems do go on 150 to 300 feet before the stop, and that's when we see a lot of people try to outrun the school bus."

He said don't do that. Whether behind a bus or in the opposite lane, drivers are required to stop unless there's a concrete barrier.

"A turning lane does not constitute a barrier," Bernhart said. "It must be a physical barrier that kids cannot walk over."

Gary Schumacher with the Berks County Intermediate Unit said safety on the school bus is just as important.

"So many times, as the bus is still moving slowly to the stop, the kids will start running toward the bus," Schumacher said. "We don't want that. Stay on the curb. Stay safe there."

Bernhart echoed that statement. He's imploring kids to wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before approaching, and then once on the bus, to be on their best behavior.

Another reminder to drivers is to stay off your cell phones. Transportation officials said they see a lot of distracted drivers either miss the stop signs on the bus or come way too close.

As the school year gets underway, motorists need to be vigilant and watch for school buses transporting children, be alert in school zones, and look out for pedestrians.

🚌 🛑 View #BackToSchool resources at ➡️ #BeAlert #DriveSafe #SchoolBusSafety

-- PA Department of Transportation (@PennDOTNews) August 20, 2019 PennDOT offers a number of back-to-school safety tips for both drivers and students on its website.