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Eric Douglas: Saving a couple minutes isn’t worth the risk

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There was a television commercial a few years ago where parents were dancing and singing their way through an office supply store – as the kids followed behind dejectedly – and the song lyric was “it’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Of course, that time is now. It’s back to school time.

Cue the “first day of school” photos on social media and parents about my age bemoaning where the time has gone as their kids are entering their last year of school.

I don’t mean to sound jaded (or more jaded than normal). It’s just what we do now.

Of course, when I was in school, I don’t remember my parents taking all those photos. Mom was usually trying to get my brother and me out of the house. We walked to the bus stop, got to school and the year started again. That was really all there was to it. I don’t feel deprived by that.

Speaking of buses, they are (or soon will be) back on the road again. That means it’s up to the rest of us to slow down and watch out for them – and kids running for them. I’m sure the police will be out patrolling to see if people are passing stopped school buses.

No matter the temptation, don’t do it. Don’t pass a stopped bus. The best case is you get caught and receive a hefty fine and penalties on your driver’s license. The worst case is you’re in a terrible accident and a child dies for your impatience and bad judgment – a family is destroyed, and your life is ruined.

Is that worth two extra minutes?

According to the website SafeMotorist.com, these are the school bus rules in West Virginia. I couldn’t find a clear explanation like this from any official West Virginia websites. Only in the West Virginia code and that’s a problem. If you want people to understand them, they should be everywhere and written in plain language.

But here you go:

• On all undivided highways (without a median), traffic in BOTH directions must stop at least 20 feet from a stopped school bus that has its red lights flashing. You must not pass the bus until the lights are turned off or the bus starts.

• On divided highways (with a median you cannot cross), traffic coming toward a school bus stopped on the other side of the median does not have to stop.

• You must stop for a stopped school bus which is receiving or discharging students on school property or private property.

• If the identity of the driver of a vehicle which passes a stopped school bus cannot be determined, the owner or lessee of the vehicle in violation may be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, subject to fines.

The Penalties

• Passing a stopped school bus — Minimum $50 and up to $200, plus 6 points

• Speeding in a school zone — Traffic fine, plus 6 points

If you’re worried about being caught behind a bus and being late for work, get up 15 minutes earlier. Rushing and stressing at the last minute isn’t worth it.

Eric Douglas, of Pinch, is the author of “Return to Cayman,” “Heart of the Maya,” “Cayman Cowboys,” “River Town” and other novels. He is also a columnist for Scuba Diving Magazine and a former Charleston Newspapers Metro staff writer. For more information, visit www.booksbyeric.com or contact him at Eric@booksbyeric.com

Funerals for Monday, September 16, 2019

Campbell, James - 2 p.m., St. Anthony Catholic Church, Charleston.

Chaney, Doris - 6 p.m., Ridenour Lake Gazebo, Nitro.

Conger, Jacqueline - 2 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Daugherty, Roy - Noon, Deal Funeral Home, Point Pleasant. 

De Roo, Mary - 11 a.m., Blessed Sacrament Church, South Charleston.

Garrett, Barbara - 1 p.m., Grace Episcopal Church, Ravenswood.

Jennings, Betty - 4 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Legg, Phyllis - 1 p.m., Bell Creek Missionary Baptist Church, Dixie.

Lyons, Ronald - 1 p.m., Bartlett - Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Parsons, Joan - 2 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Persinger, Patsy - 1 p.m., White Funeral Home, Summersville.

Petry, Jo Ann - Noon, Cunningham - Parker - Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Stirling Sr., Robert - 1 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation Inc., Grantsville.

Waldron, James - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Woodard-Thomas, Carolyn - 1 p.m., West Virginia Memorial Gardens, Calvin.