mcj-2019-05-22-opinion-johns-column

John Ward

Another school year is rapidly drawing to a close, and I’ll be enjoying a brief summer respite from my job driving Bus 32 for the Amory School District.

Amory is a busy town for those who stop traffic periodically to board or discharge riders. Very seldom do I complete a stop without traffic waiting or ignoring me. It seems to me that more drivers will stop for a dog in the road than they will for a school bus’ flashing lights.

My service area crosses back and forth on Highland Drive from 5th Avenue North all the way out of the city limits heading for Smithville. Along the way are intersections that were converted some years back by the Mississippi Department of Transportation from signal controlled to four-way stops. From the higher perch behind the steering wheel of a bus, those intersections look like they’ve been made into a real-life bumper car game.

I’m continually baffled by the appalling ignorance of the motoring public of the rules governing such intersections.

Motorists’ reactions to an approaching school bus vary from deference more appropriate to an emergency vehicle to those trying to get around a bus and still live to recklessly drive another day.

Granted, common driving courtesy of deferring to other drivers goes hand-in-hand with most of the rules that apply to safety in navigating intersections.

I had a brief chat with Amory High School Driver Education instructor Chad Williams one morning after I had discharged the last of my morning crew at the high school.

“When in doubt, let the other driver go first,” he advised.

He emphasized these days extra caution is critical because there are so many multitasking, distracted drivers out there.

“A stop sign means come to a complete stop,” he said. “A complete stop is assured if you can spell S-T-O-P before you start to move again.”

Where two drivers approach an intersection at right angles, the driver to your right proceeds first, thus the term “right-of-way.” Where three or four vehicles converge simultaneously, the one coming to a complete stop first moves first – if that vehicle is not turning. The vehicle to the right moves next, in counterclockwise order around the intersection. The exception is that vehicles making a turn always yield to drivers coming straight through the intersection.

Thankfully, for the most part, I have encountered very few drivers that have gotten me upset. I give special appreciation to those drivers who give buses the same safety margins as emergency vehicles. I’m just thankful that I’m through with my 12-mile afternoon route before the really serious bumper car game gets underway at 5 p.m.

John Ward is a staff writer for the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at john.ward@journalinc.com.

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