SAFETY ARTICLE FOR SEPTEMBER, 2017
Hello fellow Blue Knight’s DE1 members. I wanted to take a moment and pass on some information and safety advice now that schools are back in session. This safety message is in regards to our school bus laws. I’m sure you are probably all familiar with our school bus laws, but I wanted to touch on one area that pertains to safety either while riding your motorcycle or your four wheel vehicle.
We get many out of state drivers here from NJ, PA and MD. All the school bus laws are a little different in each state, but I’m only going to deal with DE which can be a little confusing. The Delaware School Bus Law used to have the word “Median” in its definition, but is no longer noted in the wording. The law stated for many years that a divided highway was separated by a median. Driver’s naturally thought that a median was a cement barrier or grassy strip. Now the law just states a divided highway which can just be divided by a painted yellow traffic line. When I teach defensive driving classes I frequently get asked, what is the difference between a yellow and white painted traffic line. And I get this question from veteran drivers. I’m probably boring you right now, but just in case you’re not sure, a yellow line separates opposing traffic and a white line separates traffic going in the same direction.
In Delaware all traffic traveling on a one lane or two lane roadway must stop for any school bus that is discharging students. On a four lane divided roadway only the traffic traveling in the same direction as the school bus must stop when the bus is discharging students. Divided meaning separated by just a painted yellow line. This is because the school bus driver is only allowed to discharge students who live on that same side of the roadway so no students should be crossing the roadway. Of course that doesn’t mean that students won’t run across the roadway so be prepared. It might be a good idea to at least slow down a little and cover your brakes just in case. “Covering Your Brakes” means to place your fingers on the front brake lever and foot on the rear brake pedal, but don’t apply either. Just doing this saves you the reaction time it takes to move your fingers or foot to the brakes. At 60 mph your motorcycle will travel 88 feet in one second, the time it will take you to move your fingers and foot to the brakes.
Speaking of using your brakes on your motorcycle, I wanted to make this point that has always worked so well for me and we have always taught in motorcycle classes. Some riders only use one or the other brake for certain kinds of stops or for slowing down. It is “Best” to use both brakes together all the time whenever slowing or stopping. You don’t have the luxury when having to make an Emergency Stop to waste any time trying to decide if you should only use the front brake, back brake or both brakes together. If you always use both brakes together, that’s what you’ll do in an emergency.
I’m bringing all this up due to the large number of accidents we encounter that are caused by drivers not being familiar with the school bus laws. This can become very dangerous for us motorcycle riders. The problem occurs when drivers not being sure of the state school bus laws decide to suddenly slow down or stop in the middle of the road even when traveling on a four lane divided roadway in the opposite direction of the stopped school bus. We need to be prepared for this to happen whether on our bike or in our car. If you’re not thinking about this possibly happening in front of you, you may find yourself suddenly having to perform an emergency braking or immediate swerving maneuver and if you’re not comfortable and confident in performing these maneuvers you may find yourself smashed into the back of that car you didn’t expect to stop.
Always ride and drive defensively. Expect the unexpected. Be prepared for the worse and hope for the best. Drive/Ride to stay alive.
Bruce Taylor / Safety Officer / Blue Knights DE 1 September 4, 2017