(1) They should be REQUIRED to pull over after every 3 stops if there is ANYONE behind them to let others pass (if they is a way to pull over). Some bus drivers do, others don't. A law will require it.
(2) They should only be allowed to use there red flashers when letting off elementary school (or younger) children or when an older student has to cross the street. (In most states you don't have to stop for a school bus unless it has its red flashers on) Young elementary schoolers behavior can be unpredictable, they may decide to run out in the street. Older children behavior is more predictable and they can be trusted not to run out into the street. So why should the other lanes of traffic have to stop if the child is not going to cross the street and can be trusted (not to run out into the street)?
(3) If they are letting off more than 5 students they should be REQUIRED to pull off the main road and onto the residential street so that they don't seriously hold up traffic. There is nothing more annoying than a bus that lets of a half a bus-load of students in the middle of a main road. Traffic can often get backed up for over a half a mile in both directions for no necessary reason. If the bus driver does the simple act of turning into the neighborhood street that the kids are all going to, the situation would be solved.
If bus drivers ONLY use there red flashers when absolutely necessary and pulls over every now and than. They would become a lot more liked and people may just stop for them when it is necessary. Both the bus driver and the other drivers will be happy. Some bus drivers do but others don't; laws would require then too.
[Notes on why the issue was originally struck]
From: Fergus Young <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Sun, 22 Oct 1995 00:32:17 -0400 > (1) ... In the winter, it can be dangerous to pull over onto the unpaved shoulder - the bus can get stuck in snow or simply slide into the ditch on ice. However, drivers should be required to pull over when it is safe to do so. In rural two lane roads, often times, children can be safely let off the bus on the shoulder (paved or unpaved) right in front of the driveways of their homes. > (2) ... In Canada, Ontario for sure, you don't have to stop unless the red flashers are on. I agree that unless the passenger has to cross the street, it is meaningless to stop traffic. The bus moves away as soon as the children are off and on the walkway, so nothing actually stops those children from dashing back onto the roadway anyways. On the other hand, small kids are often greeted by adults at the bus stop, making it redundant for any traffic to stop. I have observed the use of "bus captain", usually a more mature kid leading small kids off the bus and onto the walkway or driveway. > (3) ... Depending on how the new subdivisions are designed, it might be impractical to do so at times. Some new residential areas has a lot of dead end streets or cul-de-sacs which make is impossible for larger buses to turn around. On the other hand, especially for older students, it is simply unnecessary to stop traffic for them in the quiet subdivisions anyways. I've seen students running around onto the roadway right after the school bus leaves! I guess my point leads to the fact that the school and the bus drivers cannot babysit the students all the way. If the students are too young or cannot control themselves, they should be lead to and greeted at the bus stop by an adult. Kids over the age of 14 are often let out onto the streets by themselves anyways, why do we need extra precautions when letting them off school buses. Could it be the school boards simply trying to cover themselves for any possible lawsuits? I've seen four lanes of traffic (moving at 80 km/h) stopped to let one kid off the bus on the right hand side in front of his home. Car owners are often made guilty of polluting the atmosphere, were there any studies done on the amount of additional exhaust created by this kind of unnecessary stopping for school buses? From: Robert Lutkenhaus <email@example.com> Date: Fri, 21 Nov 1997 10:32:38 -0600 There are many liabilities that the bus driver is taking when he or she drives a bus full of children. Children of any age are rather rambunctious before and after school. They are in a stage where the world to them looks like a one way street with no traffic and no patrol car to stop them. They are carefree, they are wild, and for the mostpart do not understand the dangers involved in a lot of things. Why else do you think that they question everything? ("Why do I have to go to bed? Why can't I have that kind of food? Why can't I watch t.v.? Why do I have to do this? Why do I have to do that? It's not fair!") See, they don't yet understand the rules and why they should abide by them. They don't understand the responsibility it takes to be in total control of their life. Yes, I know I may seem like I am blowing this way out of proportion, but the fact is, until they are considered as adults, they lack the discipline it takes to look out for themselves. Otherwise kids would leave the house before they got out of middle school. Therefore, it is the drivers responisbility to use red flashing lights to stop the traffic no matter what. Besides, bus drivers usually don't have some kind of kid psychology doctorate from a major university. I'm not saying that they can't decide whether a child is mentally fit enough to not run out in front of traffic, but it protects the kids, the drivers, the schools, the bus manufacturers, and the kids familys from any kind of major loss. Editors Note: The liability law is a very good point and one I have not considered before. Perhaps the liability laws need to change a little bit so it won't be the bus drivers fault if it is reasonably out of his control. I dare you to really look up the laws concerning the welfare of schools and the laws that govern how a school bus and its lights should be used and how they came up with these regulations. Editors Note: One of these days when I get around to it I may just do that. From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date Tue, 9 Dec 1997 22:30:55 -0500 (EST) I think it would be a better idea to have crossing guards at the busy bus stops so that children could be keep from running across the streets and the bus could just dump them off and the crossing guard would find the best time to tell them to go across and the bus would be away by then. Maybe the crossing guards could ride on the bus and keep the children under control so the bus driver could simply worry about driving the bus. Maybe parents could take turns being crossing guards if they wanted to or had time. Then the bus drivers might be nicer to other drivers because they don't have thirty screaming and noisy kids to shoosh. The school board and the bus driver could relax because they would have an adult at the bus stop to lead the children safely across the street. A large off duty cop would work great. From: John Harvey <JHARVEY@XENERGY.COM> Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 22:35:05 GMT I'm glad that I don't live in your neighborhood! I generally support higher speed limits on roads where traffic is isolated from pedestrians, but when pedestrians are present (particularly young ones) motorists need to be prepared to stop (not just slow down, but stop if need be). If you can not "afford" two or three moments of down time you need to re-evaluate your driving habits (or your departure time!). Children's safety must be of more importance than adults work arrival times! Editors Note: My proposal is designed not to sacrifice childrens' safety; it is designed to keep school busses from unnecessary holding up traffic. From: Anonymous Date: Sun, 17 Mar 1996 00:35:22 -0500 (EST) I would not want to live in your neighborhood or even know a person that must be in such a rush all the time. I have driven trucks for over 20 years and have followed many buses over the years in the cities and rural areas. I may be a little bias being married to a bus driver with 8 years of safely delivering her load home every night. She is out in the bad weather also trying to avoid accidents with people that have no place to go and lots of time to get there. As for point 1-MOST drivers will pull off the road when traffic backs up and it is safe to do so. Common courtesy does not have to be legislated. Point 2 the red flashers are only allowed when loading or off loading school children. Drivers using their red flashers when on charter run face very stiff fines in most areas. The behavior of elementary children is very unpredictable, BUT there are some ADULTS that are just as unpredictable in their behavior also. [Editors Note: Yes their are SOME, and those SOME adults should be an exception to the rule] Point 3 requiring a driver to turn into a residental street is a good point if you are willing to cover the extra fuel costs to put them back on their routes. Travelling through the residental area would also increase the pollution by the extra driving and distance that they would travel. [Editors Note: What about the extra pollution, and wasted fuel of 30 cars idling for 2 minutes while a bus driver lets off a bus load of kids?] The school boards must try to limit the time the children are on the bus and get them home as quickly and safely as possible. I would also believe the school boards try to get the buses off the road as quickly as possible to avoid traffic back-up in the rush hour traffic My views and thoughts are my own and you may not agree with any of them, but how can you put a childs safety in jeopardy trying to save a few minutes of your time From: Anonymous Date: 12 Dec 1997 21:22:46 U As a school bus driver, my desire to vent on this subject has been building for a long time. I am 26 yrs, and have been a school bus driver for 2 years. I feel "strongly" that the procedures in place should not only be kept, but improved also. When I was training, my instructor told us "people will kill themselves to get around a school bus" and I have found this to be overwhelmingly true. I carry different ages of children on 4 different runs. The runs I have are through sections that are moderate to rural. The stops, must be approved beforehand by the local police. Here is what happens when I approach a stop. Approximately 250 feet before the bus actually stops, yellow flashing lights are activated to warn motorists of a stop. When I stop at a stop, the "Monitor" (an adult who's job is specifically to follow a procedure for crossing children) gets off the bus with the children. At this point, I find that about 60% of the time a vehicle passes the bus from the opposite direction. This even after being forwarned by the amber lights. If any cars are approaching from a distance and find it absolutely necessary (which they usually do) to come all the way up to the bus, I have to wait for them. Now, as my monitor waits on the center line, and the children wait on the side of the road, vehicles stopped in the opposite direction are "creeping" forward. This now forces the process to come to a full stop,. and all motorists must now wait extra time until the car stops and I am sure that the motorist is not going to suddenly lurch forward while the students are crossing. At the same time, I have to be concerned about the vehicle behind me that is normally within 3-4 feet of the vital emergency door exit. I must also wait for any vehicles in the area (on intersecting sidestreets) to come to a full stop, to avoid a confrontation or possible collision while the students are crossing. Stopping seems like a simple process, but it is almost always a big production. Now after the students have finally crossed, and I start to do my final check before proceeding- there is most always a motorist who begins creeping forward again, presumably to get a headstart to save the extra fraction of a second. Now, my attention must be on this individual when all I want to do is get the bus out of the area. And also, there is the motorist who "guns" the car as soon as the lights go out. Obviously there are children still in the area when this happens. While I do feel that speed limits on highways need to be increased and theres always room for change, I feel that some points are sacrificing safety. Next time you drive through a school zone where the speed limit is 20mph, (most people including myself rarely notice these reduced speed zones) notice how many people are driving far above 20mph. My question to drivers who I have to issue citations to is "If it was your child crossing the street, would you want motorists to stop?" or "Would you want them driving by a school zone at 45mph while your child stands by the side of the road waiting to cross?" Sutdents getting on and off a school bus is statistically proven to be the most dangerous action most children will perform on a daily basis. Some comments were about older children that "play" in the street anyway when the bus leaves. This may be true, but they don't have an 11 foot moving wall with 37 blind spots near them while traffic passes around it. I am not the safest driver in the world, I have a few speeding tickets under my belt as well, but I do not feel that any measure of safety, no matter how far fetched, or no matter how little the risk may be, should be sacrificed for the sake of convenience where human lives are concerned. Especially children. Minimal impact to other motorists is considered when routes are made. And you will find that 99 percent of the time, that the same school bus will travel the exact same route and stop at the exact same stops at precisely the same time every day. A small change (2 or 3 minutes) in your departure time, or a different route to work should avoid conflicts. And if motorist would perform the simple act of coming to a complete stop at a reasonable distance and remaining stopped until the lights go off, the time would be even less. Modern school busses are now much more capable of keeping up with traffic. I find that no matter how fast I am traveling, cars always take serious chances to pass the bus. Stopping traffic is not about stopping cars just because we don't think you'll see the children. Its because all motion anywhere near the bus must stop to avoid involving the bus or students in a collision. If it is supposed to be so easy for children to get off the bus or cross without stopping traffic, then why is it so hard to get the traffic to stop? From: Tom, Middletown Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 21:29:28 -0500 (EST) As a busdriver, I find that I "AM" liked by the relitives and friends of the students I am protecting, and the people who understand that my actions are done primarily in the interest of safety. I am only disliked by impatient individuals less concerned with the safety of my children and more concerned with driving recklessly to get to work on time. Tom, Middletown, RI From: email@example.com Date: Thu, 25 Dec 1997 22:55:15 -0500 (EST) I am a school bus driver and i'm responding to a letter i read that someone wrote. I think if this person has nothing good to say about a school bus or the driver, maybe they should try it sometime. ( Better yet we dont need people like them, they would be more children hurt) I guess they dont put themselves into the parents shoes of taking to long to unload and holding up traffic. Stopping for a school bus is the LAW. I have two small children that ride my bus and I try everday to treat all other 40 children on my bus the way i would want my own to be treated. And that is to make sure those Kids get home safe... School bus drivers carry precious Cargo!!! Who ever you are think about it??? (From a Bus Driver "who care about other and their lives") From: Erik Barron <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 09:48:04 -0400 There are already laws stating when flashers can be used. Case in point, A bus driver who was dropping children off at the YMCA in town was given a ticket for using the flashers. The reason was that the flashers can only be used at specified school bus stops. Your state may vary. As for points 1 and 3: All of the bus drivers that I have been behind have pulled over if they have had cars behind them as a common courtesy. As for points 2: I can not see how your need to get somewhere faster, is greater than safety of the children, no matter how old they are. I just allow more time to get to work if I have to leave when its time for the school busses to pick up the kids. Editors Note: This response was sent to me before I got a chance to write out the more detailed explanation.
Note: I am no longer taking responces to this point, as I have created a new article on the subject
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