When it comes to school buses, a different set of right of way rules apply. These rules have been instituted in the interest of child safety and all of us have a duty to respect these rules. Many drivers are confused as to when they have to stop and the violations in the country run into the hundreds of thousands daily.
The basic rules governing a school bus which has stopped and displaying flashing lights so as to embark/disembark children is as follows:
- In a two lane highway, traffic in both directions must stop on seeing a stopped school bus with yellow lights flashing and stop sign displayed
- In a multi-lane paved across highway, traffic in both directions must stop on seeing a halted school bus with yellow lights flashing and stop sign displayed
- In a multi-lane divided highway, vehicles behind the stopped school bus with yellow lights flashing must halt. Vehicles in the opposite directions need not halt
Some states have an exception to these rules, but in general, these are the rules to follow. The states where there is an exception to the above rules are: Ohio, West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi and New York and drivers should study the rules as applicable to these states.
When a driver of a vehicle approaches a railway crossing, they should obey the following rules:
- Stay within the speed limit
- Proceed with caution so that he/she is able to stop at a safe distance, which is 15 feet from the nearest rail line.
- Drive taking reasonable care at all times in the vicinity of the Railway Crossing
There are rules to be followed by the engineer and train crew too, which are:
- Sound horn at the crossing
- Sound the whistle a quarter mile before railway crossings and at other designated places
- Keep the headlights of the engine on at ‘bright’
- Keep the train moving at the designated speed for that section of track
- Observe all safety instructions and rules governing railway crossings
Some of the reasons accidents occur are due to the following actions on the part of motorists:
- Does not slow down when approaching crossing
- Does not look in both directions for approaching trains
- The motorist is in a hurry and tries to beat the train
- Ignores ‘Stop’ signals
Motorists that play chicken are playing with their lives. A train cannot stop or manoeuvre to avoid a car, but a motorist can by following all signals and safety rules.
Rules regarding school buses and railway crossing have been framed keeping in mind safety. Children, by nature, can be unpredictable and hence the rule to stop when the buses Yellow Light is flashing. We owe it to our children to scrupulously obey these rules. Similarly, at railway crossings, it may be tempting to try and beat the train. However, a wise motorist will know it is better to be “late Mister than the Late Mr….” Respect School Buses and Railway crossings.