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Give em a brake.

Driving is a privilege that we all must take seriously and with it comes an awesome responsibility not only to the people riding with you but those that you share the road with. For most drivers you have had the pleasure of sitting behind a stopped school bus, stop bar extended and red flashing lights on, as the kids either load up in the morning or depart in the afternoon. To be honest, it is nerve wrecking (to say the least), especially when one is pushed for time. No matter what your personal feeling is about stopping, it is unlawful to pass a stopped school bus on the left, right or from any direction--if the bus is displaying a stop sign and red flashing lights--you don't pass!

Passing a stopped school bus is a violation of traffic laws, which vary from state to state. Laws requiring motorists to stop in the vicinity of school buses are intended to prevent serious accidents involving children as they walk to and from the bus, often unpredictably. For example, Virginia law specifically states "You must stop for a stopped school bus with flashing red lights and an extended stop sign when you approach from any direction on a highway, private road or school driveway. Stop and remain stopped until all persons are clear and the bus moves again. You must also stop if the bus is loading or unloading passengers and the signals are not on. You do not have to stop if you are traveling in the opposite direction on a roadway with a median or barrier dividing the road and the bus is on the opposite side of the median or barrier."

Here are a few examples of what can happen if you don't follow the rules: On May 30, 2014 in Minnesota, a semi-truck illegally passed a stopped school bus, nearly killing a young 13-year-old female student waiting alongside the highway. Cameras inside the bus captured the close call, which happened on Highway 23 near Paynesville and New London. The footage showed the semi blow past the stopped bus on the right side--lights flashing and stop arm down--and continued along the highway. Thankfully, neither the girl nor bus driver was injured.

Unfortunately, another young lady wasn't so lucky in Cherokee County, S.C. Two weeks prior to the Minnesota incident, a vehicle did the same thing and blew past a school bus on the right. A 16-year-old girl couldn't move fast enough to get out of the way of the vehicle and subsequently was struck. She was airlifted to a nearby Trauma facility where she was treated in the ICU. To make matters worse, the driver had a young child in the back seat riding along while she was driving recklessly.

These are just two of many stories about improper/illegal passing of a school bus. Many drivers tend to rush and become extremely impatient when it comes to the loading and unloading of the school buses thus causing major mishaps and/or near misses. An old wise woman always told me that if you are rushing that's a sure sign that maybe YOU should have left for your destination a little earlier.

Remember during this school year to slow down, give the kids a break, be responsible, and pay attention. Being late for a meeting or a ballgame is not worth putting a life at risk ... yours or theirs!

From 2003 to 2012, 174 school-age children died in school-transportation-related crashes, 55 were occupants of school transportation vehicles and 119 were pedestrians.

From 2005 to 2012, both 5 to 7 and 8 to 13 age groups each had 42 (35%) school-age pedestrians killed in school-transportation-related crashes.

DID YOU KNOW: The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of being hit?

From 2003 to 2012, there have been 1,353 people killed in school-transportation-related crashes--an average of 135 fatalities per year.
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Title Annotation:DRIVER'S DIALOGUE
Author:Young, Kimberly R.
Publication:Combat Edge
Date:Sep 22, 2015
Words:657
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