Bus Driver Stops Diagonally To Prevent Stop Arm Violations
published on April 09, 2019 by Sonia Mastros
All school bus drivers, at some time or another, have been frustrated by motorists ignoring the stop arm and endangering students near the bus. Stop-arm violations are one of the single biggest dangers to students during a school day, and there's relatively little a bus driver can do to stop it. However, a driver in Sutton, Massachusetts, came up with a very creative solution - unfortunately, one that was also illegal.They stopped the bus diagonally across a narrow two-lane road, physically preventing any cars from passing in either direction.
This event quickly made its way onto social media and prompted intense conversation among Sutton residents. The dangers of stop arm violations are evident, but was the driver justified in completely blocking the road? What if an emergency response vehicle had to get through?
Well, from a legal perspective, it's clear-cut: Stopping the bus diagonally was illegal, even just for a minute or two. The Sutton police made this clear, and have apparently had a conversation with the driver and their district to make sure it doesn't happen again. However, presumably in recognition that the driver did this to protect their students, no charges or citations were filed.
Unfortunately, the debate apparently did nothing to change driver behavior. According to reports, the very next day, an impatient motorist passed by four cars and a school bus on the right shoulder, rather than wait for the bus to move.
All this just goes to show how important it is that communities, districts, and school bus drivers all work together to reduce stop arm violations.
Working to Increase Stop Arm Awareness
It's vital that districts do what they can do discourage stop arm violations and, whenever possible, work with the police and other authorities to get the word out. Some potential steps can include:
- Public awareness broadcasts, such as on local TV or radio, warning about how illegal passing endangers children.
- Making sure information is widespread about the steep penalties for stop-arm violations.
- Consider adding stop-arm cameras to your buses, although depending on your state/county, this could require laws be passed to allow for enforcement.
- Adding more and brighter lights to the bus, to decrease the chances of motorists simply not noticing a bus's warning lights.
- Training students heavily on bus safety, with an emphasis of always watching for illegal passing behavior before exiting the bus or crossing the street.
It is extremely unfortunate that school bus drivers apparently now feel the need to take drastic action to protect students - but breaking the law shouldn't be seen as a solution.
How is your district working to reduce stop-arm violations? Let us know in the comments.