Police crack down on drivers passing stopped school buses

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

STAR STAFF

&nbsp  Two people were cited last week by Elizabethton Police Department for improperly passing a stopped school bus. It may not be the crime of the century, but it's still unlawful and city police are cracking down, says Deputy Chief of Police Larry Shell.
&nbsp  While this simple rule may be elementary to most drivers traveling a two-lane highway, there may be some confusion on divided highways.
&nbsp  Here are some ABC's of school bus passage, according to Tennessee Code Annotated:
&nbsp  * The driver of a vehicle, upon meeting or overtaking a school bus from either direction which has stopped on the highway to receive or discharge school children, shall stop the vehicle before reaching the bus and shall not proceed until the bus resumes motion; the driver is signaled by the school bus driver to proceed; or the visual signals are no longer actuated.
&nbsp  * The provisions also apply to any bus which has its lights flashing and stop sign extended and is on property owned, operated, or used by a school or educational institution if the bus is stopped to receive or discharge students outside a protected loading zone.
&nbsp  * The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with separate roadways -- meaning roadways divided by a median, concrete barrier or space not suitable to vehicular traffic, such as U.S. Highway 19E -- need not stop upon meeting or passing a school bus which is on a different roadway.
&nbsp  This does not apply to drivers traveling in the opposite direction on four-lane highways separated by a center turn lane, such as Broad Street or West Elk Avenue, Shell said.
&nbsp  Drivers traveling West Elk from Elizabethton in the direction of Johnson City may pass on a separate roadway once they travel beyond the intersection of West G Street near Grindstaff Chevrolet, Shell said, because the roadway is separated by a median.
&nbsp  Of the two drivers cited last week, one passed a stopped school bus on Broad Street. The other driver, who was traveling in the opposite direction on West G Street, slowed for the stopped bus then continued on in the opposite direction while driver Merle Mullins honked the bus's horn in an attempt to stop the driver.
&nbsp  It is a Class C misdemeanor not to comply with the law, according to TCA. The regulations also apply to clearly labeled church or youth buses which are discharging or receiving passengers.