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what would you do?

2 perspectives of an accident

     
4:22 pm on Oct 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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(Sorry for the length- this turned out longer than I'd planned...)

So I'm driving to work today... In front of me, in the left lane, is a white car. In the right lane is a school bus (with kids inside). When the white car is almost halfway abreast of the school bus, the bus turns on his left turn signal. OK, makes sense- there's an elementary school in the area and the bus needs to make a left turn soon to get there. Common sense would dictate that the driver would give the white car driver a few seconds to speed up and get past the bus or slow down and let him change lanes.

Nooooo. The driver immediately starts moving over into the left lane. The white car slams on the brakes (as do I and the cars behind me) and I watch bus and car move closer and closer. Just when I think the white car will make it, the bus clips the right side mirror.

The bus goes on its merry way, and then pulls a Mario Andretti and swoops back into the right lane after passing the truck that was previously in front of it.

Shortly after that, the white car pulls into a left turn lane (presumably to go drop a kid off at school). I think that maybe no damage was done, so the driver just wants to get the kid to school and forget about the incident. As I go by, I see that the mirror is cracked and hanging out of the holder- so much for no damage.

So if you're the driver of the white car, is your priority:
A) Getting your kid to school on time, or
B) Chasing after the bus to get contact information and file a report?

If you're me, is your priority:
A) Following the white car and offering your contact information as a witness,
B) Chasing the bus driver down,
C) Forgetting about the issue and just going on to work?

I opted for B. At the point where I saw that the white car was damaged, it was too late to slow down and pull in behind her, so I would have had to do a U-turn and come back and try to find her again.

I caught up with the driver at the school. Boarded the bus and told him that he really needed to check his mirrors when making lane changes. Then I told him that he hit a car. He of course denied hitting any car. I told him that I saw him hit the car because I was right behind it and told him that he needs to be more attentive since he has the responsibility of all his passengers, as well as the those vehicles around him.

I realized that unless the driver of the white car also confronted the driver, nothing more was going to come from the situation, so I just left.

Now I'm wondering if I should go back to the school and talk to the principal... I often complain that there are so many problems in the world because no one wants to get involved.

In this case, I probably would have chalked up the incident to an honest mistake, except that the bus driver's gratuitous lane changes after the accident make me feel that this may be indicative of a larger problem.
4:32 pm on Oct 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Do what your heart tells you to do (safety to kids in a bus might be one way of looking at that). But beware this kind of FOO... my last venture here as regards real world did not turn out well. :)
8:35 pm on Oct 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I finally decided to e-mail the principal with an account of what happened.

No good deed goes unpunished, so we'll see what happens...
8:50 pm on Oct 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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If my child were on a bus being driven in such a careless manor or with a careless driver I would be infinitely grateful if someone took the time from their life to make it known to me.
8:58 pm on Oct 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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You did the right thing by reporting it, perhaps it was just an unfortunate accident, but maybe the driver has a poor driving record.

The fact the driver didn't stop makes me suspicious that the driver may be a repeat offender.

Keep the kids safe!
11:27 pm on Oct 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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That kind of driving can be indicative of drugs so you certainly did the right thing by reporting it. So that leaves the question of who do you report it to...

I live in the UK and things are somewhat different here (no dedicated school buses for starters) but I'd probably have opted for reporting the incident to the police. They have so many forms to fill in and boxes to tick that they would have no alternative but to investigate thoroughly - probably too thoroughly.

After reporting something like this, the likelihood is that no action will ultimately be taken, but you'd feel pretty bad if there was a serious accident some time later - you'd be left wondering if you could have prevented it.

Kaled.
11:50 pm on Oct 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Common sense would dictate that the driver would give the white car driver a few seconds to speed up and get past the bus or slow down and let him change lanes.


Might have lost him them in a blind spot. The closer a car gets to the front of the bus the less likely that the driver can see them easily. It's a blind spot and it's much worse on the right. That's why they have those large convex mirrors on large trucks.

If you are going to pass a truck or bus always pass on the left and don't waste any time getting by them assuming that it's not congested.

This of course assumes US roads, if you drive on the wrong side of the road in your country it would be reversed :P
12:03 am on Oct 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I didn't notice in this case, but I think most school buses these days have convex mirrors as well.

Regardless, it's exactly because of that blind spot that the bus driver should have waited several seconds before starting to merge into the lane. Luckily, he didn't zoom into the lane on top of the car like he zoomed back into the lane in front of the truck later on.
1:27 am on Oct 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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bus driver's gratuitous lane changes after the accident make me feel that this may be indicative of a larger problem.

With unemployment so high there is NO excuse for such a poor driver in that high a risk to life position. It's likely the students warned the driver too. Potential witnesses. Some buses video every action. File a police and school report. It's likely traffic light cameras recorded the white car's license and damage too!

If it appear the school is dragging their feet DO NOT set phasers on stun! Go for kill! Contact other agencies (Board of Education and state Department Motor Vehicles). Bring it up at public Board of Education meetings too.

I'm a father of a 25 year old who once was bussed and an uncle to a 12 year old niece now being bussed.
9:12 am on Oct 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I'm not trying to say the bus driver wasn't in the wrong, I've had plenty of encounters with very bad school bus drivers. It's a part time job with low pay at least in my area, it's not a job that attracts more qualified drivers with a lot of experience.

They'll have those convex mirrors too. What I'm saying is if the traffic wasn't congested and the driver of the car was loitering in that area going the same speed they contributed to the accident.

When you're driving in a truck you're constantly checking those mirrors and movement in them, you need to be aware of the traffic around you. What happens if someone is traveling in that area for a while you might lose track of them. You don't see any movement in the mirrors for a long time and you get the sense no one is there. You don't see anyone in the large mirror and if you don't check convex mirror you'll never know they are there. I've had this happen to me plenty of times only to find out there is a car next to me when I looked in convex mirror.
11:30 am on Oct 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Where we are, I'm pretty sure if you formally report an accident of a bus driver that it will be followed up on. I'd give the police a call and report it. You don't need the other car's backing.

I wouldn't bother normally, but a school bus is a different story. You almost certainly witnessed an isolated example of a trend.
3:55 pm on Oct 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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No response yet from the principal. I also sent the same message on the school's Contact Us form. If no response by tomorrow, will also escalate it to the school board.
4:59 pm on Oct 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I would have reported it. As has been pointed out several times, school bus drivers are responsible for the safety of children. They're not exactly hauling side beef cross country. Being too careful doesn't even enter the picture here.

You're doing the right thing LIA.

I knew you would :) :)
6:08 pm on Oct 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Finally got a response back from the principal. She thanked me for letting her know about the incident and said that she has passed the information on to the town, which funds the buses.

No mention about "we take safety seriously" or anything like that, and the response was rather curt. Maybe the curtness was just due to responding through her Blackberry?

Not sure if the buck has just been passed into a bureaucratic black hole...
7:24 pm on Oct 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I would have beat the drivers ass and said "slow the f--k down or next time im really going to beat your ass"..."have a nice day"
2:27 am on Oct 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Let the local PTA know of this driver's recent indecent.
9:42 pm on Nov 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I'd consider a letter to the editor, too, as the parents of the kids on that bus should be aware of the situation.
3:55 pm on Nov 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Update- got a call last night from the driver of the white car. (It was a welcome change from the dozens of political robo-calls we've been getting, but that's a different rant...)

She said she filed a police report- they said they can't do much without a witness or information about the bus. Then she contacted the bus company- they denied any of their buses were involved in an accident. Finally, she contacted the school- they gave her my phone number and a copy of the letter I submitted.

She just moved to the area and it was a rental car (with a huge deductible, so the repair is coming directly out of her pocket). So she was thrilled that a witness had come forward so she can now go back to the bus company and police and push for a favorable resolution.

Oh, she said the bus company told her that they had "hundreds of buses" so there was no way to know which one it might have been. Yeah, right- the school doesn't even have hundreds of students!

So I feel much better now about deciding to do something instead of just letting the matter slide, as it looks like it may actually have made a difference.
9:57 pm on Nov 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

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LifeinAsia--the hero!
Great story.

Nice thing about email in this kind of situation, how it's dated and time-stamped...

Sweet.
10:02 pm on Nov 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Doing the right thing is never easy.. and rarely are you thanked for it.

As a parent... Thanks to you!

Sounds like the lady in the car is grateful too.

Your community is lucky to have you.
1:46 am on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Imagine next time that the `driver' is someone on a push-bike rather than a car. Broken wing-mirrors are one thing, broken humans are something else.

Well done for getting involved.
4:42 pm on Nov 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Alexk,
Actually, I usually bicycle to work along that road instead of driving. So yes, that was certainly part of my imagination and a major influence in deciding to do something.