Story & Photos – Joseph Boyle
Approximately 800 children die and 152,000 children are injured traveling to and from school each year.
I will never forget the pedestrian fatality scene I investigated involving a young student killed in a cross walk. One of my jobs, that day, was to take the graphic color photographs of the fatality scene. There were two sets of photographs; one was submitted as evidence and the second was burned into my mind.
Believe me, none of my good readers would ever wish to be the driver who injures or kills anyone, especially a child. Let’s talk about one of the solutions; school bus safety.
The vast majority of drivers are totally confused about school bus safety. Some drivers fail to stop when they should stop. Other drivers stop when they should not stop.
Ok, if you pay close attention to this next part of my story, you will become an expert safe driver around school buses. You will know exactly what to do and what not to do.
SIX SIMPLE RULES
Rule #1: If you are moving in the same direction as the bus and are signaled to stop, all drivers must stop. The number of lanes has no impact on your requirement to stop, if you are moving with the bus.
Rule #2: If there are only 2 lanes of travel and the bus activates its stop signals, stop regardless of which direction you are traveling. If you are traveling behind the bus or toward the bus, all drivers must stop.
Rule #3: If there are 3 or more lanes of travel, and the bus activates its stop signals, stop only if you are moving in the same direction as the bus. If you are moving in the opposite direction as the bus and there are 3 or more lanes, of travel, do not stop. A center turn lane counts as one of the 3 lanes of travel.
Rule #4: If you are driving on the opposite side of a jersey barrier (concrete wall), do not stop.
Rule #5: If you are driving on the opposite side of a grassy median, do not stop.
Rule #6: You should treat the yellow and red lights on a school bus just like you should treat yellow and red lights at any intersection.
No, I am not suggesting that when faced with a yellow or red light, you speed up. That is unsafe driving.
The true and safe response to a yellow light is to stop, if you reasonably can do so.
The true and safe response to a red light is to stop, period.
Besides protecting the children in our community, there is another benefit. School bus violations are expensive.
School Bus Violation tickets cost $364.00. If you take the ticket to court, the judge is not allowed to reduce the ticket, if it is found that you committed the violation.
Some drivers might think, “There are no cops around to catch me. I am in a hurry, so I will ignore the school bus safety lights and drive on past the bus.”
The school bus driver and students can gather information on a violator as they drive by, including make of vehicle, color, driver description and license plate number.
The bus driver submits a complaint to law enforcement.
After being checked out, law enforcement can mail you, the registered owner of the vehicle, a $364 ticket. If you do not cooperate with the officer’s investigation, you can end up in jail for obstructing.
During my traffic enforcement career, I issued dozens of well-documented school bus violation tickets and never lost in court. Not once. I share this with you to help you gain the impression that it is probably better to avoid the ticket in the first place than to earn one and try to fight it out in court.
Please do not get mad at me. I am just the messenger trying to help you avoid being issued one of these ugly tickets.
If you review and internalize my rules above, you should be very successful in keeping the cops out of your life and checkbook.
If you stop in the roadway and you are not supposed to, technically, you could be issued a ticket for $124 for illegally stopping in the roadway.
Hopefully, since your heart is in the right place, you might only get a short education and a verbal warning instead of a ticket, but there is no guarantee.
There are 3 E’s in traffic enforcement, Engineering, Education and Enforcement.
My article is Education. There are two ways to learn things, the easy way and the hard way.
Easy = read my six rules one more time.
Hard = hover by your mailbox for a $364 ticket.
Please drive safely.