Watch out for school buses

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A South Marion Citizen editorial

Once again those big yellow buses are ready to travel the highways and byways of Marion County, taking children to and from school.
Classes for public school students begin on Monday, Aug. 19. Some private schools have already started.
Therefore, it’s time to review some of the most misunderstood traffic rules on the books in Florida.
1. If you are going in the same direction as a school bus, no matter how many lanes the road has, you must stop if the arm is extended and the red lights are on. It is prudent to not pass the bus when the yellow lights come on as the bus slows down, because they could change to red at any moment, and if they’re red and you’re passing, watch out for the blue lights.
2. If you are going in the opposite direction as a school bus on a two-lane road, and the arm is extended and the red lights come on, you must stop. No exceptions.
3. If you are going in the opposite direction as a school bus on a four-lane road, well, here’s where it gets tricky. If the four-lane road has a median more than five feet wide, or a barrier to prevent normal crossing of foot traffic, you do not have to stop. It must, however, be a median (around here most are grass and/or plants).
4. However, if the four-lane road has no median or barrier, you must stop if you are going into the opposite direction. Around here, we have a number of “five-lane” roads, roads which have a turn lane in the middle. Those paved turn lanes are not medians, and you must stop.
We see violations all the time on such streets as 27th Avenue West, 14th Street Northeast and roads like that. There are even small portions of U.S. 27 that have no divider or median, just a turn lane.
Of course, the rules have to work both ways. Nothing is more annoying than to be coming in the opposite direction of a school bus, whose yellow warning lights are flashing. You slow down to stop, but the bus just keeps on cruising and stops somewhere behind you, leaving you “out to dry” as other drivers, who didn’t slow down, speed around you.
It’s also annoying when a bus stops, takes on children, then just sits there while the driver talks to a parent who is standing on the sidewalk.
So please, know the law and keep the children who are using the school buses safe. But we urge the drivers to keep other people in mind. Drivers can save themselves some courtroom time and money in the process of knowing and abeying the law..