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A question of traffic and dealing with a school bus.


Kirk W

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Today driving there was an incident which I highly suspect that you know the legal issues of and sure would appreciate your thoughts and opinions.

I was west bound on TX110 just to the west of Tyler when I came upon a school bus, stopped with signs out and lights flashing, so stopped, probably 5 to 10 car lengths before the bus. When the bus completed dropping the children it began to proceed to the east on TX110 with signs still out and lights on. I, & the other three cars behind me all stayed stopped and the bus proceeded past all four of us, stopping again maybe as much as 10 lengths past (to the east) all four of the stopped cars. He then stopped again and let more kids out.

After some hesitation, I proceeded since the bus was now past the point where I was, and all three cars behind me did the same, but it left me wondering just what I should have done? It also brings the question of was what the bus driver did legal for him to do?

I have never seen anything like this before and just thought that someone here might be able to answer just how we should react. Since some of the readers here are, or once were LEO's, if you don't mind sharing, what would you have done had you observed this incident while on duty? Was the bus driver violating any laws and were we OK to proceed once the bus had passed us in the direction opposite of our travel?

I'd sure appreciate it if you would share your thoughts!

Thanks!

 

EDIT - - Corrected the word "not" to say now as it should have read.

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Kirk, I find your post confusing, maybe because you have a typo in the first sentence of paragraph three. Did you mean "now" instead of "not"? That would make sense to me. To answer you question(I'm not a LEO) if the bus was now past me in the other direction I would have proceeded as you did, Best wishes, Jay

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I drove a school bus 10 years in MI. In all the busses we had, when you close the door the outside flashing red lights and stop sign cancel. By your description the bus would have been moving with the door open, very wrong. It is possible there was a mechanical problem that didn't turn the lights off. In MI there is a minimum distance that must be travelled before another stop can be made, I believe it was 200 feet. If the bus is past you no need to stop even if the red or yellow lights are flashing. Greg

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Kirk,

I to am confused....
You state in the second paragraph "and the bus proceeded past all four of us, stopping again". Then in the next paragraph you state "I proceeded since the bus was not past the point where I was". I don't understand how he "proceeded past all of us" but had not "passed the point were I was".

 

regardless, I agree with Big Greg - he should not be moving with the door open OR red lights (and stop sign) flashing. Yellow flashing telling you not to pass - I could buy that if he/she was stopping again soon. The whole minimum distance issue probably comes to play.

 

Lenp

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After driving a slop load tanker behind one of these, I have very little patience. When they have 10 cars stopped and making multiple drops, courtesy would dictate stopping the bus, turning off the lights and letting traffic clear. Oh no, it's a power play to keep them trapped behind you.

There's a focus on that now here in Baltimore, $570 fine. But of course it's OK for them to go 45 MPH w/kids on board down my 25 MPH street.

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I drove a school bus 10 years in MI. In all the busses we had, when you close the door the outside flashing red lights and stop sign cancel. By your description the bus would have been moving with the door open, very wrong. It is possible there was a mechanical problem that didn't turn the lights off. In MI there is a minimum distance that must be travelled before another stop can be made, I believe it was 200 feet. If the bus is past you no need to stop even if the red or yellow lights are flashing. Greg

 

All the school buses I've seen turn on the yellow flashers before the bus fully stops. In the old days, the driver would move the door release handle just over center, keeping the doors closed, but triggering the lights as he/she slowed down. I suppose modern buses have it all on push buttons or toggles now. In Kirk's situation, I would have done just as he did.

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First of all, I guess I should have proof read the thing as it should have said "now" where I put not...........

 

Greg, it is possible that the door to that bus was still open, as the door was on the side away from me. He did travel slowly and partially on the shoulder and traveled I would guess at least 15 car-lengths, possibly more as I had stopped well before reaching his location. I would guess that he moved 400' or more. As I traveled on west I did see in my mirror that the bus then turned off the lights once that second stop was made and he continued on his route.

 

Sorry for the confusion. We deal with several different school districts where we live and at least one of them does have drivers who will pull to the shoulder between stops to allow traffic backed up behind them to pass, but there is another district that is well known for not giving an inch and frequently building up a line of cars of 10 or more when on crooked roads. We have learned to not travel in that direction at times when the buses are picking up or dropping off students. County roads here are typically hilly, crooked, and with timber along most of them such that you can't see to pass, even when the buy is moving without flashing lights.

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When I drove (1996 to 2007) in MI the yellow lights are activated when the driver pushes a button. The yellow lights go off and the red lights are activated automatically when the door is opened. When the door is closed the red lights go off. No way should a bus be moving with the door open, either the driver did not close the door (deactivating the red lights & stop sign) or there was a mechanical problem. If the road had a shoulder wide enough we'd pull over to allow traffic to clear, sometime that is not possible. Bus drivers know they imped the smooth flow of traffic but their number one motivator is the safety of their kids. Some school districts allow stops to be made using only the flashing brake lights if the kids where not crossing the road allowing traffic to drive by but our district did not......you never know what a kid will do so safety came first. I have seen kids do strange unpredictable things when they walk off or get on a bus and there are drivers that either speed or creep past you with the red lights and stop sign activated and kids getting on or off a bus. Most districts plan bus routes to minimize the need for kids crossing the street. Greg

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