In Pennsylvania's Ferguson Township, nearly five times as many illegal passings have been reported this school year compared to the previous year. Stock photo courtesy NHTSA

In Pennsylvania's Ferguson Township, nearly five times as many illegal passings have been reported this school year compared to the previous year. Stock photo courtesy NHTSA

FERGUSON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Nearly five times as many school bus stop-arm violations have been tallied here this school year compared to the previous year, according to figures from local police.

The Ferguson Township Police Department announced on Friday that the number of reported illegal passings of school buses has spiked from seven in the last school year to 34 this year.

“To date, local school bus violations have increased by 385 percent between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years,” the police department said in a press release. “Our children’s safety is at risk when drivers meet or pass stopped school buses.”

Ferguson Township Police also noted that local school buses are now equipped with cameras “to monitor such activity,” although the press release did not elaborate on how the cameras may have impacted the reported number of violations.

Penalties for school bus stop-arm violations in Pennsylvania include a $250 fine, five points on the driver’s record, and a 60-day license suspension, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

During School Bus Safety Week last year, the state Department of Transportation highlighted a video that explains when to stop for school buses:

In Ferguson Township, the police department also said on Friday that it has seen an increase in distracted driving incidents, including motorists making phone calls, texting, reading newspapers, sorting through compact discs, and applying makeup.

“It is vital to focus 100 percent of your attention on the road, being mindful to put your safety and the safety of your passengers and other drivers first,” the police department said. “Drivers also need to be vigilant of changing road conditions and the behavior of other drivers who may be distracted.”

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