We're all in favor of ensuring children's safety. But a recently published response to a "Q&A"--about a driver's responsibility when approaching a school bus from the opposite direction--struck us as a bit bizarre.
Before we get to the question (and the disturbing answer), here's a quick overview of the governing law. According to Article 29, Section 1174, of New York State's Vehicle and Traffic Law, a driver of a vehicle on "a public highway, street or private road" encountering a school bus stopped for the purpose of receiving or discharging passengers may "not proceed until such school bus resumes motion, or until signaled by the driver or a police officer to proceed." So far, so good.
But what if the highway upon which you are traveling is separated from the opposite side by a concrete or metal barrier? Are you still required to stop should you happen to encounter--from the opposite direction--a school bus with flashing lights?
According to the September 2006 edition of Car & Travel Monthly, a publication distributed by the AAA New York, drivers must stop--even when they are riding along a divided six-lane highway. Here's the AAA's take on the issue:
Flashing lights indicate the bus is picking up or discharging students. According to New York State law, when the red lights on a school bus flash, motorists must stop unless waved on by the bus driver or a police officer....Failure to obey this law carries a first-conviction fine of $250 to $400 and five points on your driver's license. Although the lack of exemptions for substantially divided roadways may seem to defy common sense, studies show that most school bus-related deaths and injuries occur while children are crossing the street, not while they are passengers on school buses.Pray tell, for how long has discharging young passengers on a six-lane highway--divided by a concrete or metal barrier--been legal? And, since when are people permitted to traverse such roadways (particularly in the absence of a marked crosswalk or traffic control device)?*
Rather than "defy common sense," we're of the opinion the law is being interpreted in an absurd fashion. [It's very likely that more people would be seriously injured (or killed)--by rear-end collisions or other mishaps--if they were to adhere to AAA's view.]
To view the relevant statutory section, please click on the following link:
To view a copy of the Q&A in Car & Travel Monthly, please click on the following link:
*See, e.g., Article 27, section 1152, of New York's Vehicle & Traffic Law:
Crossing at other than crosswalks.
(a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.To view a copy of the entire statute, please click on the following link (and select "VAT"):
(b) Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right of way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
(c) No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices; and, when authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the official traffic-control devices pertaining to such crossing movements.