By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
Another academic year has begun! Children in Cherokee and surrounding towns are jumping into their classes. Many other activities associated with school, like elementary and high school sports, are in high gear. As school buses resumed the yearly transport of this precious cargo, it is a good time for a reminder of the need for especially-alert driving when encountering children waiting on the bus and buses that are in the process of stopping to pick up and drop off children from school activities.
I recently watched a video showing a school bus dropping off children after their day of learning. The bus had come to a complete stop on a two-lane road with no median and activated its ‘stop’ signage and red flashing lights. As children exited the bus and walked around the front of the vehicle, a car raced by the stopped bus from the opposite direction. As a child walked to the front of the bus to walk across the opposing lane to his home, a second speeding car continued past the bus and the child, ignoring the stop sign and flashing lights. As the child started to cross the road into the opposing lane, a third car nearly hit the child’s leg as this vehicle also drove past the stopped school bus.
Fortunately, this incident did not occur in Cherokee or at any of our local school systems. But, looking at this example should provide a striking reminder that we are all responsible for the safety on the highways, especially when it comes to children. Children have an expectation of protection that we need to provide.
I think we can help in two ways. First, be aware and follow the requirements listed in the North Carolina Driver Handbook. We can also help by reporting to the local authorities when we see a violation of state law regarding school bus safety. Simply pull to the side of the road, punch in *HP on your cell phone and describe the violation to the Highway Patrol. Give a much detail as possible, including make and model of the vehicle and license plate information.
Except from the North Carolina 2014 Driver Handbook:
When a school bus displays its mechanical stop signal or flashing red lights to receive or discharge passengers, the driver of any other vehicle approaching the school bus must stop and not attempt to pass the school bus until the mechanical stop signal is withdrawn, the flashing red lights are turned off and the bus has started to move.
Below are specific rules for a variety of situations involving stopped school buses:
Two-lane roadway: When school bus stops for passengers, all traffic from both directions must stop. Two-lane roadway with a center turning lane:
When school bus stops for passengers, all traffic from both directions must stop.
Four-lane roadway without a median separation: When school bus stops for passengers, all traffic from both directions must stop.
Divided highway of four lanes or more with a median separation: When school bus stops for passengers, only traffic following the bus must stop.
Roadway of four lanes or more with a center turning lane: When school bus stops for passengers, only traffic following the bus must stop.