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Ask Dr. Delay: The ABCs of driving near stopped school buses

Now that schools are back in session, the Doc has had a number of inquiries about stopping for school buses. The most prevalent question is whether vehicles must halt for stopped school buses if the vehicles are headed in the opposite direction on a divided road.

Florida law says anyone operating a vehicle must, upon approaching a school bus that displays a stop signal (the red paddle that swings off the side of the bus that reads "STOP" and red flashing signals on the bus), bring their vehicle to a full stop while the bus is stopped. Motorists can't pass the bus until the signal has been completely withdrawn. It doesn't matter if it appears that all the kids have gotten on or off the bus; motorists must wait. Those who do not have committed a moving violation.

When it comes to a divided road, which means that an unpaved space of at least 5 feet, a raised median, or some sort of other physical barrier is present, motorists are not required to stop when traveling in the opposite direction of a stopped school bus.

School bus drivers are trained to stop as far to the right of the street as possible and to display warning lights and stop signals. When possible, bus drivers are not to stop where visibility is obscured for a distance of 200 feet either way from the bus. But they depend on motorists to be alert and, above all, patient. The Doc witnessed two incidents last week of impatient idiots gunning their motors and flying by as the buses were still closing their doors.

Additionally, drivers who pass a school bus on the side that children enter and exit when the bus is stopped and displaying stop signals are committing a moving violation and are subject to a mandatory hearing. The Doc would like to see a mandatory overnighter in jail added to the current penalty for lead-footers who seem to think getting to the next red light before everyone else is more important than children's safety.

Barricade watch

• McMullen-Booth Road traffic from State Road 580 to Curlew Road will experience partial lane closures and stop-and-go traffic because of sidewalk removal and replacement work, followed by grading and sod restoration on the sides of the road through mid September.

• Ongoing work along Belcher Road from Bryan Dairy Road to 118th Avenue N conducted by Pinellas County Utilities calls for intermittent lane closures, detours and delays. The work is scheduled to be completed in late December.

• Watch for intermittent lane closures and flaggers on 28th Street from 38th to 54th avenues N as work continues on lowering road shoulders for improved drainage and sidewalk removal and replacement. Concurrent projects will be ongoing most of this week, and will be followed by grading and sod restoration on both sides of the road. This work is scheduled to continue into mid September and will involve partial lane closures and stop-and-go traffic.

• Largo motorists should be alert to an odor and corrosion study being conducted along the sewer lines associated with 142nd Avenue and 150th Avenue in the vicinity of the Paradise Island Mobile Home Park this week. Watch for people collecting samples beginning Tuesday through Sept. 2. Call Largo's Community Development Department Engineering Division at (727) 587-6713 with questions or concerns.

Until next week, happy and safe motoring!

E-mail Dr. Delay at DocDelay@gmail.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity. Follow the Doc on Facebook by searching for Ask Dr. Delay.

Ask Dr. Delay: The ABCs of driving near stopped school buses 08/27/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 27, 2011 4:31am]
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