Sussex County Delaware
To Pass the Test,
Don't Pass the Bus
Sussex Snapshots -- August 29, 2002

SC Online Editor

NOTE: Kerin Magill is Content Editor of Sussex County Online. Her column, "Sussex Snapshots", appears each Thursday on this site.

Eric Magill, Sussex County Online

OK, so school's about to start again.

Everyone's had a great summer, but now it's time to get serious.

Let's spend a few minutes reviewing some things that might have slipped out of our brains during all those dunks in the pool. Ready?

Here's the first question:

What's the most dangerous, unsafe behavior on the road? (we know there are lots of choices here, so take a moment to think.)

OK, time's up.

How many people said speeding?


Running red lights? Wrong again.

Passing in a no-passing zone? Close, but no cigar.

According to 99 percent of drivers who participated in a 1997 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey, the answer is: Passing a Stopped School Bus (with lights flashing and stop-arm extended)!

In my 20 years as a reporter, I've had some memorable interviews. But one of the most unforgettable took place about 10 years ago, when a school bus driver stopped in to talk about how frightened she was.

No, it wasn't unruly kids that had this woman literally shaking as she sat and talked to me. It was other drivers.

She told me she'd had two people in about a week pass her stopped bus ON THE SHOULDER. Once, she was seconds from letting a child off the bus and had to grab her by her clothing to keep her from stepping off the bus.

I've never forgotten that women's anger. In fact, she managed to transfer some of it to me.

It's one thing to pass a stopped bus, either on the left or by continuing past one traveling in the other direction, through sheer inattentiveness. It's quite another to be so impatient that you would whiz past a school bus which could be about to release a passenger. All types of passing a stopped school bus are equally illegal.

Yet according to studies conducted in a variety of states, it happens thousands of times every day.

In Sussex County, particularly in coastal Sussex, many of our residents are well beyond the age where we have children in school. And many of us are not "from here."

But the laws regarding stopped school buses are the same nationwide: Drivers are required to stop when the stop-arms are extended and the red lights are flashing. On undivided highways, that means whether you're behind a bus or coming from the other direction.

So remember, if you want to pass the test, Don't Pass the Bus.

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