I know that not everyone who reads my blog uses public transit 100% of the time, or at all in that fact. The purpose for this blog is to educate people about public transit and that includes those who drive their personal cars through the cities they call home. With that in mind I feel I should educate those motorists that may not realize how much of an impact their habits and choices have on a bus driver and the passengers that depend on that driver to get them where they are going safely.
No matter what part of the Tampa area you live in, everyone has seen this sign at one point or another:
It means exactly what it says, “Yield to the bus.” For those of you who may not know what the definition of yield is as it is used in referring to traffic, here is a definition. Pay close attention to the definition number 8 where it says “give right of way to other traffic.” This means that you need to either slow down and allow other motorists to complete their intended maneuver before you continue. When referring to the above decal, that means when a bus is trying to merge back into traffic to continue on route you need to either slow down or switch lanes allowing the bus to return to traffic unimpeded.
Another decal that most everyone across the country has seen is this:
While most buses don’t have this decal it still applies. When you take a 40+ motor vehicle and attempt to make a right hand turn, you are going to have a gap on your right hand side. Just because this gap exists doesn’t mean you can squeeze your little compact there to try and pass the bus, you will be very sorry with the end result, I promise.
Another common mistake I see a lot of motorists make is when they are making a left turn from a light and there are multiple left turn lanes. When you are in one of these scenarios with a bus, follow the broken white line that has been painted for you and remain in your lane throughout the turn and after you’ve completed it. Once you are clear of the bus make your lane changes. If you try to make a drifting lane change in the middle of the turn into or in front of the bus, the driver may not see you and an accident can result and you will be to blame.
One of the most dangerous maneuvers that people make is passing and overtaking another car. The danger is multiplied when that other vehicle is a bus. For starters you have a vehicle that is potentially three times as long as a standard car. When you combine that with passing a 2 lane road you are now putting yourself in the oncoming lane for a much longer period of time multiplying the chances of you causing yet another accident. If you ever decide to pass a bus, do not, DO NOT merge directly in front of the bus and then proceed to slam on your brakes and turn right onto another street or into a driveway of some kind. I know most of you are saying to yourself, “well duh!” but this happens more often than you’d think. Each and every time someone pulls an asinine maneuver like that, they are putting several peoples lives in danger, not just their own. In case you’ve never seen it when a bus driver has to put the brakes on abruptly it knocks around the people on board, potentially injuring them. In case you need a visual here is a video of what happens when a bus stops suddenly and without warning (click here).
When a bus comes to a stop to pick up a passenger is really the best time to pass if you choose to do so. It can be done quickly and its safer as opposed to doing it while the bus is moving. When you are traveling on a road that is 3 lanes across or larger and you choose to pass a bus, do it quickly. Don’t dawdle along the side of the bus, either speed up and pass or slow down and stay behind. If for whatever reason the bus has to swerve to avoid debris, another car or a pedestrian you definitely don’t want to be chilling out next to him. So speed up and get around or stay back.
As stated above a bus has to make wide turns when making a right turn. If you ever find yourself in the oncoming path of such a turn, don’t move right away. Most of the time the driver has already seen you sitting there and should have mentally pictured how they are going to make this turn with your car sitting there and not making you move. So when you move that could cause more problems then good. If they driver wants you to move they will most definitely let you know, you won’t mistake it.
I hope that this has helped you in your future encounters with a bus while you are driving wherever you are heading. Respect the bus and the bus will respect you.