School Bus Law Insanity

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Why do school buses have to stop at all railroad crossings?
I address the phobic nature of this law and offer sound, reasonable suggestions to get us back on the path to sanity.

Submitted: December 03, 2013

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Submitted: December 03, 2013




 By Alan Valentine



Has this ever happened to you?  You’re driving down the road in your car, making good time, minding your own business.  Even though you’re approaching a railroad crossing, no problem! The gates are up, and with a quick scan of the eyes you can see there’s not a train in sight. Full speed ahead!  But then, “WTF,” you say to yourself. “Why’s everybody stopping?”Up ahead, you see the problem.  “ARRGGGGHHH!” You scream out loud to yourself.  “That stupid school bus law!”

This has been a bone of contention of mine for quite some time.  What idiot invented a law that states that ALL school buses, whether they are empty or full of children, or for that matter, adults (even more ridiculous), have to stop at every single railroad crossing in America? (There may be exemptions, but they are few.)  While listening to a local talk show, the subject came up and calls were taken.  Your humble writer called in and asked if anyone knew how this stupid law came to be, at least in Michigan.  A listener called in later and said “Oh, years ago, there was a terrible bus crash and lots of children were killed when the driver of the bus didn’t see the train coming.”  Voila!  A law is born!  OK, let’s see….one accident at a railroad crossing….how many years ago?  A qoogle search couldn’t find the answer, but let’s just say it happened in, oh, 1950.  Since that time, there have been approximately 73 million safe railroad crossings by school buses, and it’s not because the drivers stopped at the railroad tracks, IT’S BECAUSE THERE WASN’T A TRAIN COMING!!

According to the CAS (Center for Absurd Statistics) the chance of a school bus full of children being slammed into by a speeding train is one in a billion.  In fact, a perfect storm of events has to happen in order for the next to impossible to happen. This thesis is my attempt to document the absurdity of this so-called law. First I’ll deal with railroad crossings with automatic gates.

1.To begin with, there has to be a school bus full of kids barreling down the highway.  That’s easy enough. How can there be a horrible accident involving children at a railroad crossing if the bus isn’t packed with brains full of mush?

2.Secondly, a train has to be steaming towards the crossing where the bus is headed. (Our odds are starting to go up.)

3.Third, the railroad crossing gates have to be stuck in the UP POSITION!  Let me ask you.  How many times have you approached a railroad crossing and the gates are stuck this way?  Every time I’ve come across a malfunctioning gate situation, they were stuck in the down position with no trains coming.  That’s when you see the drivers attempting to go around the gates so they can be on their way.

4.Here’s an easy one.  The bus driver has to be totally oblivious, say like Otto from the Simpsons.

5.No traffic in front of the bus.  After all, in order for this calamity to happen, the bus has to proceed unimpeded right across the  tracks, instead of veering around cars that may be in the way.

OK, to recap….bus full of kids, malfunctioning gates, a speeding train heading directly for the bus at the EXACT time it’s crossing the tracks, a preoccupied driver, no other vehicles in the buses way… HAPPENS ALL THE TIME!!

I can hear you lovers-of-stupid-laws out there saying, “Yeah, but what about railroad crossings without gates?”  If they have a stop sign, well and good, we all have to stop. That being said, to recap again….bus full of kids, a speeding train heading directly for the bus at the EXACT time it reaches the tracks, a preoccupied driver, no other vehicles in the buses way….you get the drift.

So, given that this little diatribe is not going to change anything, we need to go ALL THE WAY to make sure every kid in America never has to worry about crossing those evil railroad tracks.  Since it’s all about the children, why is ANY VEHICLE with a child in it allowed to go across railroad tracks without stopping?  Someone needs to pass a law immediately:  Every vehicle with a child inside HAS TO STOP AT EVERY RAILROAD CROSSING!! “Wait a second,” you say. “That doesn’t make any sense!”  Why not?  Aren’t poor defenseless children in a coffin sized minivan on the way to soccer practice just as important as a school bus full of potential road kill?  At least the kids in the bus stand a chance! (And wouldn’t the train conductor be more likely to observe a bus approaching the tracks before he would notice a smaller vehicle so he could at least try to apply the brakes? but I digress…)And what about the asinine law that says EMPTY buses must stop before going across the tracks?  Well then, we need to have a law that says EVERYBODY has to stop before crossing the tracks.  No, wait, that would be silly….I know, OUTLAW TRAINS!!  That’s the answer.  Now, all the kids in America are finally safe.  After all, since trains crash much more often than airplanes (or maybe it’s the other way around-I forget), we get rid of the trains, then go after the airplanes.

Now, about those accident-waiting-to-happen funeral processions……


© Copyright 2019 Alan Valentine. All rights reserved.

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