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Archive for July, 2015

Stop for that bus!

The Wake County Public School System has announced new safety procedures for their school buses. Starting immediately, bus drivers will turn on their flashing lights and visually check for safety.  Once it is deemed safe, the driver is supposed to deploy the mechanical crossing bar prior to allowing students off the bus. The goal is to improve safety for children riding the bus, but will the delay in deploying the cross bar improve safety?

One job of the flashing lights and cross bar is to alert drivers that children will be getting on or off the bus and, therefore, they need to stop.  The roads in the Triangle have gotten more congested in recent years.  As our roads have gone from two lanes to four and even six lanes, it has gotten more difficult to observe all traffic.  We have spoken with drivers who could not reasonably see a school bus because of tractor trailers or delivery trucks.  Obviously, everyone wants to make sure all drivers are aware of the school bus and act accordingly. If the cross bar isn’t deployed immediately, are drivers still on notice that they need to stop?

According to the law, “When a school bus is displaying its mechanical stop signal OR flashing red lights…” (emphasis added) the drivers must stop.  Based on this, drivers must stop when they see either the red lights or the stop signal.  A driver must stop when they see the flashing lights, even if the cross bar is not deployed so Wake County’s policy doesn’t create a safety issue by allowing cars to pass before the stop bar is out.  However, does the policy create a safety issue by delaying one means of notice that the bus is stopping? Time will tell, but in the meantime, keep an eye out and stop for that bus!