8/29/11 - Road Rage and School Bus Drivers in Mansfield, PA
My children will tell anyone who asks that I am generally anal when it comes to street lights, stop signs, even to following the arrows in the Wal-Mart parking lots. When people drive the wrong way, I have to say something. When people drive their cars too far into intersections before bothering to yield, or when they run stop signs, I say something about it. When it is dangerous behavior, I use my horn.
Today was no exception.
Since 2004, there has been a problem with the aggressive bus drivers not stopping at the stop sign at the end of the bus lane in front of our local High School. The bus lane empties out into Besaneecy/Dorsett Drive a street that intersects with Route 6 and also has a stop sign. Today, the driver of Bus 37 didn't even bother to brake as he approached the stop sign. Having the right of way on Besaneecy Drive leading up to West Wellsboro St. (Route 6), I beeped to warn him I was approaching. I hoped he had seen me, but I was certain that even if he did, he would run the stop sign. The bus drivers often do, though it is illegal. I always drive defensively, but this made me doubly cautious. As he ran the stop sign, he *only* braked because I was right in front of him. My daughter was with me in the car. I came to a full stop at the stop sign and beeped again to warn him of the danger of his position. He had a bus load of children just picked up from the school, after all. As I looked out the driver's window of my SUV, I could see the bus grille and the windshield and very clearly see the driver's head and metal rimmed glasses. I could *not* see the roof of the bus or the tires. He was completely blocking the opposing lane and any turning traffic.
I pointed to his stop sign and held my hand palm out at him to indicate he was required to stop at the sign, which every driver ought to know to do, especially one who drives our children around for his living. He leaned into his horn for a long time. Sixty seconds or more, making it impossible for me to determine if I could proceed safely onto the highway because I did not know what he was going to do. I was afraid to take my eyes off him. His aggression toward me was plain and I could not be sure he would not try to proceed past me onto Route 6.
When he stopped blowing his bus horn, I was able to concentrate on driving again. I accessed the traffic and determined I could make my turn when it was clear to me that there was an opening. I turned right onto Route 6 and he immediately followed after me. I proceeded toward the red light at the intersection of Route 6 and Route 15, braking to come to a stop. The light turned green while I was applying the brake and the cars ahead of me accelerated to cross the intersection. Traffic was very heavy - it always is between 3pm and 3:30pm. This was also the first day of school and I was being very cautious because of the potential for student foot traffic at the light. I was leery of the bus behind me because he had pulled up very close to my rear bumper and was tailgating me. All I could see in my rearview mirror was the silver and black bus grille. Though I didn't even come to a full stop, since traffic was moving, he beeped at me again while I was transitioning between the brake and the gas, quite plainly impatient with me. By this time, my daughter was getting upset and I was quite concerned regarding the bus driver's aggressive behavior.
I proceeded along Route 6 toward Academy Street. I had hoped to turn left onto N. Academy, but at the intersection of Academy and Route 6 traffic was again at a standstill. There were several college students crossing at the crosswalk. When they were across and it was safe, I proceeded forward at the speed limit of 25 mph. The bus driver was on my tail the whole way. When the speed changed to 35, I accelerated to the speed limit, hoping to get away from the bus but he stayed right on my bumper. I was concerned for the safety of my daughter and as soon as I could, I signaled a left turn to take me down a side street to E. Elmira Street. Thankfully, there was no oncoming traffic. I only applied the brake enough to make the left turn and the bus driver AGAIN leaned into his horn as I made my turn.
I drove along E. Elmira until I got home. With a brief stop in my driveway to collect my frayed nerves and calm my daughter, I decided to return to the school to report the bus driver. I do not know the name of the company. I plan to find out ASAP.The new principal was outside watching the last of the buses leave. He greeted my daughter and me warmly. I introduced myself and relayed the incident to him. He told me that others had already reported it to him because of the bus driver's excessive use of his horn. The principal was very kind and helpful. He offered to contact the bus company.
I am almost willing to wait to hear from him. Then again, I may call him tomorrow to find out what occurred, but I am not going to see this kind of aggressive abuse of power continue. Men and women entrusted with our children should not be perpetrators of road rage. Perhaps this driver was having a bad day, some might say. If he was, he should not have been behind the wheel of a vehicle that can weigh anywhere from 10 to 14 tons when it's empty. Full of High School students, that weight increases dramatically. These vehicles do not stop instantly, though he had plenty of time to stop at that stop sign. At highway speed, 55 mph, it can take 300 feet to stop a bus. At 35 mph, that driver would have crumpled my SUV - and quite possibly my daughter and myself - with his bus if I had needed to stop suddenly. No school bus driver should be tailgating anyone, anywhere for any reason. His actions were unconscionable.