Cindy Speaker: Good afternoon. My name is Cindy Speaker and I have with me today attorney David Daggett of Daggett Shuler Attorneys at Law. How are you doing, David?
David Daggett: I’m doing good, Cindy. How are you doing today?
Cindy Speaker: Doing great.
David Daggett: Good, good. Thanks for having me.
Cindy Speaker: Absolutely. Well you keep very busy so I’m really happy that you were able to spend a few minutes here.
David Daggett: Yep.
Cindy Speaker:Well we’re going to talk about an important topic and we’re going to talk about general safety tips for kids waiting at school bus stops, as well as just general safety tips related to school buses which I do not think are common knowledge.
David Daggett: Right, right. And it’s a serious issue and I’d like to start, if I could, by putting it in perspective. Over the past 10 years in the United States there’s been about 1300 deaths of young people or students from violations of school bus laws. Likewise in North Carolina over the past 12 months there have been 12 deaths and 47 serious injuries from drivers violating school bus passing laws. So it’s a serious topic and it’s something that we all need a reminder on.
David Daggett: I think one of the things that happens is school buses are running during the busy time of the day and people’s minds are on other things, and most of the time I think it’s the … you drift off, not that you’re intending to do something bad or harmful, but the consequences are tragic. And in what we do here we’ve seen lives of families absolutely shattered from violation of school bus safety laws. So I think it’s important that we review them.
Cindy Speaker: Absolutely. And I think it is confusing. I know for me personally when … I still don’t really know. I’m looking forward to finding that out from you although it is it the same across the country? Let’s clarify that because you’re talking about North Carolina.
David Daggett: Yeah, I’m talking about North Carolina, but the laws are basically the same everywhere. There may be some minor variations but they’re basically the same. And generally the law is anytime you’re coming up behind a school bus and it puts on its flashers, and puts out the stop sign, you’re required to stop. Doesn’t matter how many lanes there are. If you’re going with the same way as a school bus you have to stop. Generally any time that there’s fewer than … Anytime that there’s more than four lanes and/or a divided road the opposing traffic does not have to stop. If it’s four lanes or less in an undivided road you have to stop both ways. So why don’t we break that down and go through the different scenarios if we can?
Cindy Speaker: Let’s do that because we have some graphics here. Let’s start with the first graphic and maybe scenario number one.
David Daggett: Graphic number one. That’s just a two lane road, cars going both directions. When a school bus stops, puts its arm out, both sides must stop, period. No exceptions. So that’s a pretty simple one.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah. Yeah.
David Daggett: But graphic number two, this gets a little bit more confusing for people because we’re starting to see a lot of these roads, particularly in and around our metropolitan areas, where you have a two lane road with a center turn lane. In that situation it’s exactly like a two lane road, both sides must stop. And I’ll tell you where this gets dangerous and confusing is … I don’t know about where you are Cindy but here people use that center turn lane for an entrance ramp, a passing lane, they get in it way too early and there’s a lot of taking aggressive advantage of that center lane.
Cindy Speaker: Right, yes.
David Daggett: If there’s a school bus it doesn’t make any difference. If you’re three lanes or less it is always, always, always both sides stop.
Cindy Speaker: Okay. Right.
Cindy Speaker: So let’s look at the third part there.
David Daggett: Okay. Graphic number three. That’s two lane traffic going both ways, an undivided road. Meaning there’s no a barrier in between, no median, no anything like that. Again that’s just like a two lane road. All traffic from both ways must stop when the school bus stops.
Cindy Speaker: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Very good, yeah.
David Daggett: Okay. So graphic one, two, and three, all traffic going both ways must stop.
Cindy Speaker: Okay. Now it’s going to get more complicated.
David Daggett: Gets a little bit more complicated. So let’s go to graphic number four. In graphic number four is a four lane divided road, either divided by a median or by a barrier. In that case all traffic going the same direction as the school bus must stop, but traffic coming the opposite direction does not have to stop. Of course that’s because there’s the barrier there to stop kids from running across and/or a median which gives an extra buffer.
David Daggett: I will say though that we all got to remember whenever we see a school bus we have children as young as five and six years old riding the school bus. And five and six year olds are not predictable And they get out and they see something attractive, they take off running. So we need to be on red alert even in the situation of example number four, illustration number four. We have to be on red alert. As you know I still have a high-schooler. High-schoolers are still very excitable and energetic so it doesn’t matter the age. Our primary concern has to be to keep our children and our students safe, and that should rise above all else.
Cindy Speaker: Absolutely.
David Daggett: Can we move to illustration five?
Cindy Speaker: Yeah. Absolutely.
David Daggett: So illustration number five, again, I think this is a particularly dangerous situation. This is a four lane road that additionally has the middle turn lane making it into a five lane road. In that scenario that is the same as having a median or barrier between the two sets of lanes. So again you always stop when you’re on the same side going with the school bus. But in illustration number five you do not have to stop if you’re coming the opposite direction.
David Daggett: Now this is the one that’s really scary for me and I really don’t like that because with that middle turn lane you don’t have a physical barrier and you don’t have a median or some other blank stretch that has no vehicles. So what can happen is … we’re all familiar with basketball and a [pick] being set so you can’t see around the other side, is if you have a car in that middle turn lane, the traffic coming the other way, they may not be able to see a child who’s trying to cross the road or that sort of thing. So I plead with and urge all drivers that if you’re in the situation of illustration five, no, the law does not require you to stop if you’re coming the other way. However, please, please, please be on red alert. Tragedy can happen just like that and we just … we want to give our young people every chance we possibly can.
Cindy Speaker: Absolutely. And we’re going to put some resources here. You’ve got some terrific graphics here and we’re going to turn that into an ebook, and we’ll make that available so that … we’ll link it to this broadcast so that people can get that.
David Daggett: Okay. Great, great.
Cindy Speaker: But honestly I think this is so important and I’m actually glad to hear that this pertains, for the most part, nationally because as I said I … now I will … I air on the side of caution so when I see a school bus I pretty much stop whenever I see it. I’m sure there’s times when maybe I wouldn’t have to but I’m just not taking any chances. But not everybody is going to air on the side of caution so I think-
David Daggett: Just the other I saw a car passing a school bus in the middle turn lane set up like illustration number two. I mean it’s … Tragedy can strike in just an instant and it can be devastating. So this is a reminder for all of us. Like I tell my kids is when I’m lecturing somebody else I’m talking to myself also. This is a good reminder for all of us when we’re driving and we’re in a hurry on the way to work or thinking about something else on the way to work, or in the afternoon if … the hustle and bustle of life, remember to reorient yourself if there’s a school bus around because safety should always be paramount in our minds in that situation.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s great information. I love that you’re so community-minded in your firm. You guys do a lot in the community. I know you’re very committed and the other thing that I love is that it always … it genuinely comes from the heart. You’ve got a firm full of people that care deeply.
David Daggett: Oh we do. Our team is something else. I’m so proud of our lawyers and staff, and what they do for our folks. We just had a couple of Google reviews come in today and it’s very, very meaningful the way we help some folks. And genuinely everybody here, from our front desk on, we wrap our arms of love, either literally or metaphorically, around them and try to take good care of them. And as a community that’s what we need to do with our young people also. We need to collectively wrap our arms of love and support around our students, including school students on the school bus.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah, for sure. Well, David, thanks and just give us your contact information. I know a lot of people like to know how to reach you if necessary.
David Daggett: Sure, sure. So easily available by telephone, 3-3-6-7-2-4-1-2-3-4. Our folks are wonderful and will direct you wherever you need to go or give you some helpful information. In fact we just had one of those Google reviews the other day that said they called on something and we gave them exactly the right help and guidance, they didn’t need a lawyer and it handled their situation. So we’re always happy to do that. And then our website has lots of good information and we’ll have information on school bus safety on there also at www.daggettshulerlaw.com, so lots of helpful information.
Cindy Speaker: David, as always, thanks so much for your time. It’s been really great and appreciate it.
David Daggett: Thank you, Cindy. Great being with you. Have a great day.
Cindy Speaker: You too. Thanks everybody, we’ll see you again soon.