A reminder to heed school bus laws

Posted

To the Editor:

Within the next few weeks, students across our state will be heading back to school. This means that thousands of them will be traveling to school on the school bus. School buses are some of the largest vehicles on our roadways, driven by some of the most highly trained driving professionals. With the back to school season approaching, I feel it would be a good time to remind the motorists of our state of the laws and procedures of driving near a school bus.

The lights on a school bus mean the same as they do on a traffic signal: flashing amber means the bus is preparing to stop, flashing red means stop. A school bus driver will activate their amber warning lights at least two hundred and fifty feet prior to bringing the bus to a stop to pick up or drop off students. Any motorist near a bus who sees flashing amber lights should be aware that the bus is approaching a stop and should be prepared to stop. This applies to traffic traveling in both directions, unless the roadway is divided by a grass or concrete median. Once the door of the bus is opened the red lights will activate and the stop sign will extend. Students will be loading or unloading from the bus and may be crossing in front of the bus. If the bus has a monitor, they will be checking the danger zones of the bus to ensure that no student or object is in them. This process takes time! Motorists should remain stopped until all red lights on the bus have switched off, the stop sign has retracted, and the bus has reentered traffic.  It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus, and motorists that are caught by the police can be subject to a hefty fine and possibly the loss of their driver’s license.

The average school bus is approximately forty feet long, eight feet wide, and weighs approximately sixteen tons empty. They require a lot of space to maneuver, turn, and most importantly stop. School bus drivers are trained to leave at least four seconds of space in front of the bus to give the bus plenty of room to stop safely. Everyone should be considerate of this and not enter that safety cushion suddenly, especially when it is raining or snowing. We should also be considerate and give them plenty of space to safely turn; as buses turn widely and have a tail swing.

School buses in Rhode Island have a maximum speed limit of 35 miles per hour on residential roads (or the posted speed limit if it is lower) and 45 miles per hour on the highway. They are required to stop at all railroad crossings. No one should ever tailgate a school bus and be courteous of the professional drivers carrying our state’s most precious cargo, obeying the traffic laws they are required to follow.

Please remember this information the next time you see a school bus. A child’s life may depend on it!

Philip Hendry

Warwick

The author is a school bus driver in Middletown.

Comments

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Justanidiot

if youse donot see a skul buz, just drive like hell likes youse always due

Thursday, August 9
Cat2222

I request that the WPD start sitting at Haxton Liquors, China Sea, Ace Wood Flooring or Greggs Restaurant when school starts up again. There is a bus stop at the corner of Ethan Street between Balise and Norwood Barber Shop. People on the opposite side of Post Road continue to speed by the stopped bus. It is illegal and it could be deadly. I am astonished at the amount of drivers that fail to realize they need to stop as well.

5 days ago
TheSkipper

SOME school bus drivers are Professionals. Others are ignorant Jerks who are the CAUSE of people getting frustrated and breaking laws designed to protect students from harm. In the morning everyone on the road is in a hurry to get where they're going. Everyone is under pressure. Unnecessary and stupid delays set the blood to boiling. Some school bus drivers and Monitors should not even HAVE the job because they either have no common sense and are too fat or old to do the required job.

When I was a bus driver and monitor (before I got my bus licence) I tried to be considerate of the other drivers around me. I would pull over if I saw 5 or more cars behind me on a skinny side road thinking these people were trying to get to work or drop their own kids off at school. I would let people pass before turning on my flashers and holding them up for 5 minutes. I was not thinking like many of these so called "professionals" that I owned the damned road. When I was a monitor I didn't take so long to check the bus that grass began growing under the tires before I mounted the bus to drive on. Yes, I did my job checking under the bus or crossing the kids, but I wasn't so old or out of shape that I waddled to the back of the bus and had to rest before I shuffled back to the door like some of the monitors I worked with.

The ignorance of some bus drivers and monitors is what causes more school bus accidents than people realize. Driver and monitor training may address safety, but do nothing to address common courtesy. Both are responsible for student Wellbeing.

5 days ago
pmhendry

Cat222: I would suggest you contact the WPD and express your concerns to them. While we can file a report of someone running our reds, unfortunately it is our word against the other drivers, and most of the time pleading ignorance will result in being let out of the ticket with a warning. If the police directly witness it happening, it is much easier to prove.

TheSkipper: I fully agree with you on some counts. There are some rude, unprofessional drivers and some monitors who are merely in it for the small paycheck (depending on where you work). However, most of us are professional and truly only care about our student's safety.

4 days ago