Washington served as the embarrassing poster child last week in a Good Morning America news story about school bus safety.
Specifically, it was the driver of an SUV in Graham who last spring was caught on camera passing a stopped school bus on the right, narrowly missing three small girls about to board.
ABC reports that scenario is disturbingly common: on just one day in Maryland, vehicles passed stopped school buses – their lights flashing, red stop signs extended – 2,796 times. Of those, 83 times the car passed on the right, where kids get on.
A national study shows 26 states reported drivers passing stopped school buses on the right. That contributes to the national average of 10 children dying each year in such incidents.
Do you know your state law ensuring safety zones around school buses? Take note:
You must stop before you reach a school bus with its red lights flashing, whether it’s on your side of the road or going the opposite direction. Do not move until the red lights stop flashing.
The exception in Washington is you need not stop when the road has three or more lanes, is separated by a median, or is separated by a physical barrier, and the bus is headed in the opposite direction.
The Oregon exception is you need not stop if you’re on a divided highway separated by an unpaved median or barrier, and the bus is headed in the opposite direction.
And in case you’re tempted to cheat, be aware that Washington school buses can carry automated safety cameras that capture your license plate number.