There are many bad feelings one can get in the early morning on the way to work. Have you ever fretted over what you might have forgot as you drive down the road? Mental strain is on the rise because most people have so much work to do before they go to work! Things like remembering to turn off the coffee pot, unplug the curling iron, feed the dog, wake up the kids, put on your pants, pull something out of the freezer for dinner, and thousands of other things that make up our ‘barely conscious” morning routine. Many of the things we forget to do don’t have life or death consequences attached but one thing does; forgetting the stopping rules for a loading school bus. One of the worst feelings in the world is coming over a hill and seeing the flashing red lights and not knowing if you have to stop or not. The problem is many of our local roads are not just one lane in each direction. Knowing when to stop on a two lane road is easy and obvious, but when driving around town it can become more complicated.
Here is a refresher course on North Carolina law about when to stop for a school bus:
Flashing Amber lights means the bus is slowing and preparing to stop and so should you. Flashing Red lights mean the bus is actively loading or unloading and you should be stopped if applicable.
Here is when it applies:
All lanes must stop for bus on two lane road. Travel lane and opposite lanes must yield to flashing red lights.
All lanes must stop for bus on a two lane road with turning lane. The turning lane is NOT considered a median and some students may need to cross the turning lane to get to their side of the road.
All lanes must stop on four lane road WITHOUT and median. Students may need to cross to their side of the street, you must stop.
Up to now the road configurations have been easy and everyone must stop. Here is where it gets more complicated:
On any divided four lane road WITH a median only the traffic following the bus must stop. Traffic on the opposite lane DOES NOT have to stop. The reason being the school district will arrange the routes so no child will ever have to cross a median to get to their side of the street. The bus will always only stop on one side of the travel lanes. If a student needs to be on the other side of the median the bus will turn around and go back, or that child will be placed on another bus already on that side of the road.
On any four lane road WITH a turning lane only the the traffic following the bus must stop. Traffic on the opposite lane DOES NOT have to stop. Again the reason being the school district will arrange the routes so no child will ever have to cross a turning lane on a four lane road to get to their side of the street. The bus will only stop on one side of the travel lanes. If a student needs to be on the other side of the turning lane the bus will turn around and go back, or that child will be placed on another bus already on that side of the road.
Simply put, all traffic must stop unless it is on a four lane road split by a median or a turning lane.
Soon school will be back in session and we all have to remember to put safety first for the sake of our children.