Nancy Christian’s first day driving a Northshore school bus didn’t go as planned.
“I had 60 Kokanee (Elementary) children on board that day,” she recalls.
She turned the corner from 240th Street Southeast onto 35th Avenue Southeast, allowing herself and the big yellow bus ample room to make the corner. However, the car sitting on 35th decided to pull forward a wee bit, thus throwing off Nancy’s calculations. The right rear tire of the bus fell into the ditch, the ditch she so desperately wanted to avoid, throwing the bus into a lean.
“Emergency! — I have an emergency,” she screamed into her radio.
Nancy had never practiced calling for help, nor had she practiced setting up the red triangles to warn drivers around her of an accident, to say nothing of unloading 60 little passengers.
Nancy carefully assessed the situation and with the help of several Good Samaritans, walked the children across the street to the house on the corner.
The children looked at the episode as one big, exciting adventure on their first day of school. The parents … well …
A bus was dispatched that took the students to school, and yet another bus came to get Nancy; however, she’d have to drive it back to the barn, with a “Please don’t quit,” resonating from the head office.
Nancy picked up the children from school that afternoon and has successfully driven a school bus for the past nine years. We’re happy to report, her nightmare ditch has since been filled in, the road widened and four-way stop signs installed.
During recent discussions among friends, the question arose, “Do you stop for a school bus when there are two lanes and also a middle turning lane?”
We all gave different answers. Not good!
Nancy informs me that with a two-lane road, containing a turning lane in the middle, if you are following the school bus, you must stop when you see the yellow flashing lights followed by the red stop signal. However, if you are coming from the opposite direction in which the bus is headed, you should keep driving. This is confusing. The other scenarios are more straight-forward.
If you are driving either direction on a two-lane road and a school bus stops with its flashing yellow lights, you must stop. It doesn’t matter which side of the road you’re driving on. All cars must stop.
If you are traveling on a four-lane highway and the school bus stops with its flashing yellow lights, both lanes of cars following the bus must stop. However, both lanes of cars traveling in the opposite direction can drive through.
Nancy notes many drivers speed up when they see the flashing lights, just to get by. Drivers, please stop! It will hold up your traveling time by mere seconds.
Northshore buses carry many students — between 65 and 75 elementary students, 45 to 50 junior-high students and 40 to 50 high schoolers. We all must pay particular attention as soon as we spot the yellow bus.
Nancy jokingly recalls her second year of driving, first day of school, when the students boarded her bus and enthusiastically asked, “Are we going to drive into the ditch again?”
Suzanne G. Beyer is a Bothell resident.