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Editorial: Pay attention to rules of the road

Some may wonder why we join with state and local law enforcement officials in issuing regular reminders about traffic safety issues. Isn’t most of it just common sense?

Well, unfortunately it’s not common enough. Far too many drivers keep committing infractions that put fellow motorists, pedestrians and others in danger.

Look no further than new figures on violations of laws involving illegally passing school buses and speeding in school zones. It’s a serious problem right here in this region.

When it comes to speeding in school zones, Montgomery County drivers accounted for 31.3% of all the violations in Pennsylvania over the past five years, according to new figures released by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.

Law enforcement in Montgomery County issued a whopping 5,308 citations from 2017 to 2021, accounting for nearly 1 out of every 3 violations in the state. Over that same period, Chester County accounted for 3.2% of the violations. Berks had 2.89% of the 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. At times of day when children are arriving and departing from school, there’s a constant flow of pedestrians crossing busy streets. Motorists need to exercise extreme caution.

When it comes to illegally passing a school bus with its red lights on and stop signal extended, 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 the violations, while Berks drivers accounted for 4.2%. Delaware County had 6% of the violations, and Bucks County had 7%.

Pennsylvania law requires motorists approaching school buses with their red signals on to stop at least 10 feet from the bus and wait for the signals to turn off on the bus.

Over the past five years (2017-2021), drivers violating the two Pennsylvania school zone traffic laws have been cited more than 26,671 times, according to state officials.

With the start of school just about here, we hope these figures give drivers everywhere a valuable reminder. Getting a ticket is bad enough. Risking a tragedy is much worse.

This isn’t the only road safety issue being brought to drivers’ attention this summer.

Police in Exeter Township conducted an enforcement detail along Route 422 to remind motorists that it’s the law to move over or slow down for emergency vehicles.

The Move Over Law is intended to protect emergency workers, including those who provide towing and roadside assistance services. The law defines an emergency response area as an area in which an emergency vehicle has its lights flashing, or where road crews or emergency responders have lighted flares, posted signs or try to warn travelers.

Drivers must merge into a lane farther away from the response area to provide a cushion between moving vehicles and workers at the scene. If traffic doesn’t allow shifting over, drivers must slow down but not more than 20 mph below the speed limit so as to avoid creating another traffic hazard.

The good news is that the vast majority of drivers appeared to have at least tried to conform with Pennsylvania’s Move Over Law when they saw an SUV hitched to the back of a tow truck on the shoulder of the highway.

But not everyone does. Through the first half of 2022 crashes at emergency response scenes cost 32 workers their lives, said Kris Kerschner of the Highway Safety Network. That includes the March 21 case when two state troopers with ties to our region were killed on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia while placing a pedestrian in a patrol vehicle.

Ed Gouker, AAA manager of motorist services, said it’s shocking to see how many drivers don’t pay attention to what’s happening on the road while moving upwards of 60 mph.

Clearly it’s not possible to issue too many reminders of people’s responsibilities to themselves, their passengers and everyone else on the road.

Source: Berkshire mont

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