Exiting our bus yard on NE Columbia Blvd. is often a real challenge because it is a 3 lane road. One lane in each direction and a two way left turn lane. Before coming to the yard in either direction are yellow diamond signs showing a school bus and an arrow, to warn other drivers that school buses could be in the area, turning onto and off of the roadway in the next couple of hundred feet. The posted speed there is 40 however most of the traffic goes between 35 and 55 mph.
When we pull the school bus out of the driveway, we need to encroach into the two way left turn lane for a few moments to safely complete the turn onto Columbia. We do a hook turn there and are soon back into our West bound traffic lane. Friday while leaving the yard, I was looking both East and West alternately waiting for a break in the traffic so that I could pull out onto the roadway in to the West, that's a right turn. I am looking to the West to make sure there is no one in the middle lane since I need that space to complete my turn. Everything is clear to the left, clear to the right and I get my bus moving. I'm in the center lane with the bus heading into the West bound traffic lane and suddenly a red car is speeding towards me in the center lane! Where did this car come from? Oh, I get it! It was in the East bound traffic lane when the driver decided she needed to pass the slower traffic! That's what happened. She had to quickly veer back into her traffic lane when confronted by the bus! I reacted quickly too, by carefully applying my brakes and was able to slow down from 10 mph to stopped soon enough for her to get back into her lane without colliding with me. As I looked in my mirror upon proceeding in a West bound direction, I saw the famous American Bird appearing out of her drivers window! I had no response to that but to shake my head and continue on my journey.
These kind of scenes happen multiple times per day to each and every professional driver on the road. Sometimes their are tradgic results, but most times nothing bad happens. If more non professional drivers could witness these types of near misses. Well, I just don't think that they would be capable of changing their patterns of behavior enough to make a difference. 30 thousand pounds at any speed is still like driving your car into a brick wall! Once again, here is that picture reminder of what it means to collide with a bus. This avoidable accident happened because the driver thought he could cross traffic in front of the bus which was traveling at about 28 mph. Unfortunately the car driver miscalculated and was struck by the bus and the first responders had to cut the roof off the car to remove him and his passenger.