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What bus rule don't you understand

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Column by Jim Clark

Every year news media all over the state publish the rules of the road for school buses.

Here they are as simply as they can be put:

You should always stop for a school bus with its lights flashing; except if you are driving on a divided highway in the opposite direction of a bus and there is at least five feet of unpaved space, a raised median, or a physical barrier (concrete abutment) separating the roadway on which you are traveling from the roadway where a bus stopped. Only then you can continue to drive at a legal speed, but should still drive with an increased awareness that children might be around.

In all other situations, you must stop when you see a school bus that has its stop lights blinking and stop signs showing, regardless of whether you are behind a bus or facing a bus, driving in the opposite direction.

I trust that wasn’t too difficult.

Except for speeding, these are probably the most ignored traffic laws in the area.

One of the major problem areas we’ve noted is along SW 27th Avenue, north of State Road 200, near the apartment complexes. It’s a nice, wide road at that point, but there’s no divider, so if a bus’s flashing red lights are on, you must stop.

We’ve also seen traffic on 200 going in the same direction as a bus go zipping by, either through ignoring the law or confusing it with the move-over law.

Of course, it’s a two-way street. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for school bus traffic, and the bus is just sitting there with no children getting on or off, or a parent is talking to the bus driver with little regard for other people.

And how many times have you slowed for a bus in the opposite direction as its yellow lights come on, indicating it’s going to stop, and then it goes past you for another block or so. You’ve slowed and risked getting rear-ended.

Then there are school zones with their flashing lights and slow speeds. That’s fine when children are present, but if you can’t see kids, you shouldn’t have to slow down. And yes, there are times when the lights flash and there is no school in session.

Of course, none of this would be necessary if parents would take their kids to school. But that’s another pet peeve for another column.

Anyhow, school starts Aug. 10, so please be careful.

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen and West Marion Messenger.