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AS I SEE IT

Posted 8/29/12 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor


With all McKenzie County schools now open and hundreds of area students being transported to and from school on a daily basis on busses, this week I would like to use this column to remind motorists that when they approach a school bus to please exercise extra caution.
School busses carry the most precious cargo this county has - our children. And these young children and the drivers of the school busses deserve the utmost respect and courtesy that we, as drivers, can afford them to make sure that their journey to and from school is a safe one.
What can we as motorists do to keep this precious cargo safe?
It’s quite simple if we just follow the law, as well as some very basic driving courtesies.
First, North Dakota law is very explicit when it comes to what is expected of drivers when they meet or approach a school bus that is stopped and has its flashing red lights on or has lowered its stop sign control arm. When either of these safety warnings have been deployed by a school bus driver, the law says that all vehicles must come to a complete stop and wait while students are getting on or off  the bus. Motorists can only proceed when the school bus resumes motion and the flashing red lights or safety arm are no longer deployed.
The law is clear! Stop and pull over when you see a school bus loading or unloading children.
While the law is clear as to what motorists must do when children are getting on and off school busses, there are a few other things that drivers can, and should, do to help speed the school busses on their way, as well as keep our children safe as they walk to school.
Be courteous and give the school bus drivers a chance to get onto the highway or onto a county or city street. While everyone knows that the traffic throughout McKenzie County is heavy and everyone is in a hurry to get to where they are going, do the right thing and give the bus drivers a chance to get the students to school on time.
When driving in neighborhoods and especially in school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking about getting there safely.
Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially where there are no sidewalks. Watch for children playing and gathering near bus stops.
Be alert and ready to stop. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic. Likewise, when the school day is over and children are leaving the bus to go back home, they may forget just how busy the traffic near their bus stop is.
We want our children to be able to make their daily trips to school and back to home safely. And it is our responsibility as motorists to remember that school is back in session and drive appropriately and courteously, especially around school busses and schools.