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Experts Issue Warning As Millions Of Students Head Back To School

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Do not be distracted, but do be patient were the big messages about school bus and pedestrian safety from PennDot, AAA and Shaler Police at a school safety event Tuesday.

"We want people to pay attention as they drive and not be distracted by anything inside their vehicle," said Lt. Sean Frank of Shaler Police Department.

Shaler police said distracted drivers are a main complaint, especially during the school days.

AAA said one way to fix that is by putting your phone down.

"That's not the time to be checking your emails. That's not the time to be getting a head start on your day or eating your breakfast or playing with the radio," said Jim Garrity, AAA East Central Spokesperson.

If distractions are not the problem, maybe time is.

AAA advises putting yourself in a mindset of patience and allowing plenty of time to get where you need to go.

"For drivers, if you feel impatient, you may find yourself in a position where you feel inclined to go past the stop sign. Not only is that dangerous, but it is illegal," said Garrity.

"If you do violate the flashing red lights, there will be a $250 fine and a six month suspension of your license," said Lt. Frank.

According to PennDot, recent years have brought an increase in school-bus related crashes.

"From 2012, 2016, there were almost 600 school bus related crashes and unfortunately, 516 of those occurred in Allegheny County alone," said Yasmeen Manyisha, PennDot Safety Spokesperson.

According to PennDot, four of those accidents were fatal.

Manyisha said there are some things parents can do to prevent future tragedies.

"First and foremost, make sure you walk your children to and from the school bus.

Also, teach them the importance of crossing at crosswalks," said Manyisha.

She added one should never chase after a school bus because it can put you in the driver's blind spot.

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