PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Back-to-school time is right around the corner. With that, AAA East Central and PennDOT are offering tips to keep kids safe.

Some of the advice may seem like common sense, but what many people might not be aware of are some of the fines associated with breaking school bus laws.

Give Yourself Plenty Of Time

Chelsea Pompeani, Public Affairs Director with AAA East Central, says it’s very important in the morning to allot yourself plenty of time.

“During the early morning hours, there are going to be delays,” Pompeani tells KDKA’s James Garrity. “You want to make sure you get to your destination safely.”

Cut Distracted Driving

Distracted driving practices, like texting and driving, take drivers’ eyes off the road in front of them. Pompeani says that they aren’t only concerned with people who are driving to work.

“There’s data that shows in 2015, there distracted driving among teens was at an all-time high,” she says. “You have a lot of young kids, and you need to pay attention.”

Watch Your Blind Spots

“Children are quick,” Pompeani says. “They can run up at any moment, so making sure you check your blind spots is extremely important.”

Don’t Roll Through Stop Signs

Pompeani warns drivers not to mess around when you pull up to a school bus stop sign.

“Everyone is in a rush these days, and some people will try to go through those,” she says. “The fines and penalties that go along with that can be outrageous.”

PennDOT says that if you are caught violating Pennsylvania’s School Bus Stopping Law, you’ll be facing a $250 fine, five points on your driving record, and a 60-day license suspension.

Tips For Students

The onus to stay safe isn’t exclusively on drivers.

PennDOT advises students who are waiting for the bus to stay at least five feet from traffic, and wait for the school bus to stop before getting on and getting off.

Also – to the delight of every school bus driver in Allegheny County – students are reminded to stay in their seat while the bus is moving, and in the case of an emergency, listen to the driver and follow instructions.

When crossing the street, PennDOT tells students to stay alert, use crosswalks, and follow directions from crossing guards and crossing signals.

A 2014 AAA study revealed that there were more than 300 child pedestrian deaths in Allegheny County between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

According to PennDOT, school bus related crashes countywide increased last year, with 108 total. Over 70 percent of them happened in daylight and in dry weather.

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