I’m climbing up on my soap box for this post so be afraid, be very very afraid.
As it says in my profile I drive a school bus. A big yellow school bus. It has kids getting on and off, flashing lights, and a big red thing sticking out of the side. This red thing is a universal symbol and has flashing red lights. It looks like this.
Can anyone guess what this flashing red symbol means? Does anyone know what to do when this sign is sticking out of the side of a school bus? (*hint hint…it’s printed in white letters on the sign)
You got it!
STOP! STOP YOUR VEHICLE!!
It does not mean speed up to get by because it may be your only chance. It does not mean slow down and pass with caution. It most certainly doesn’t mean turn you head and flip off a bus full of elementary children as you drive by. It means STOP YOUR VEHICLE!!
Taken from the Massachusetts driving manual
Yellow school buses have flashing red lights and stop signs that fold out from the driver’s side. School pupil transport vehicles, like vans, station wagons, or family sedans, have flashing red lights and SCHOOL BUS signs on top. Drivers use these warning signals when letting pupils on and off.
If a school bus or a school pupil transport vehicle has its lights flashing and a stop sign extended, you must stop. It is the law.
It does not matter which side of the road you are traveling on. Remain stopped until the lights stop flashing or the stop sign folds back.
A first violation of this law can cause a license suspension and a $250 fine.
Even after the warning signals have stopped, you should proceed slowly and continue to look for children.
The only exception to this law is if a school bus has stopped on the other side of a divided highway with a barrier between travel directions. In this case, you do not have to stop.
You may notice there is only one exception. If you are driving in the opposite direction on a divided highway. That means one with a median strip or guard rails. There is no exception for a school driveway. If the buses have their red student lights flashing and the stop sign is extended YOU MUST STOP! PERIOD!!
I am bringing this to everyone’s attention because this morning I witnessed a mother come flying into a school driveway, pass one bus with its red lights on, and pull into a parking spot. After arguing with her young daughter she managed to get the girl to cross the school driveway between buses. Mom then proceeded to back into where the buses were unloading and drove past 3, yes 3 buses with their stop signs out. That made a total of 4 school buses she passed while children were unloading.
I understand people run late. I understand school buses stopping at every driveway are a pain in the a$$. I understand it is an inconvenience to be stuck behind us, BUT we are carrying children. Your children, your grandchildren, nieces, or nephews. Children who have little or no concept of what will happen if they run out in front of you. It is your responsibility to STOP and wait. Get off your damn cell phones, stop texting, and putting on makeup. Read the paper after you get to work. Leave earlier!
Keep this in mind next time you see a school bus with its stop sign extended. Across town there is a school bus stopped in front of a house. It appears to one driver that all children have crossed and boarded. They decide to pass the bus. What they don’t know is a child ran back to get her lunch money. Knowing the bus is waiting, this little girl runs right into the road in front of this impatient driver. This little girl is your grand-daughter. In a split second she could be gone. School bus drivers think about this every time we stop. Shouldn’t you?
I’m climbing down now. Thank you for taking the time to read this.