Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Highway Code: Love it or loath it, you MUST pay attention to it!

Specifically, as a bus driver, I'll draw motorists attention, once again, to a simple fact of life: Buses are part of the mass transit system, and as such have a few rules devoted to them in the Highway Code. Now, while the Highway Code is not, in and of itself, law, many of its' rules have the backing of law, including the Road Traffic Act, the Construction And use regulations, and much more besides. Have an accident, and if you weren't obeying the letter of the Highway Code will, trust me, cost you dearly at court (I wasn't always a bus driver, and was trained in a previous occupation to a reasonable level in the upholding of Road Traffic Law).

So, why am I prattling on again about this topic? Easy. More and more I'm seeing completely muppit-like driving from motorists (note: NOT Drivers, who are by definition paid to drive for a living, mostly of very large vehicles, like buses, for example!) who, for reasons best known only to themselves, want to make sure they get in front, if only by 3 feet, of a bus.

Consider this. A bus is shifting up to 75 people to and from work, school, and so on. You, in your car, are shifting on average maybe two people (I'm being generous here) at any given time. Who has the greater claim to road space? In addition, buses run to a specific timetable. Delay us, and you delay up to 75 other folks already on that bus, and countless more down the route, because you decided in your own selfish way that the bus was an inferior class of life that deserved to be delayed.

Now here's the stick:

Highway Code Rule 223

Buses, coaches and trams. Give priority to these vehicles when you can do so safely, especially when they signal to pull away from stops. Look out for people getting off a bus or tram and crossing the road.

The operative phrase here is, of course, "Give priority to these vehicles when you can do so safely". This means that if you are able to stop without having to jam on the anchors full-strength, then you should.

The carrot? Most of us bus drivers will give you either a flash of the hazard lights, an alternate left-right-left-right of the indicators, or even merely stick out a meaty paw from the window, thumb pointing up, to say "thanks".

So, spare a thought, not just for the driver of the bus, but for his passengers (ahem. Sorry. "Customers"), and let the bus go first :)

I (and my colleagues) thank you!


djeley said...

From my experience, buses don't really give other road users a choice in this matter. They simply indicate and pull out regardless! Even if you're already overtaking!

Roger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger said...

Hmph. Stuffed up the first reply, and you can't edit replies on this. Mutter wibble burble ding, and all that ;)


Given the way other road users treat buses in recent months, I'm hardly surprised.

That said, I got "1"s in all categories in a recent covert DSA assessment of my driving (and I posted this up not a few weeks back, in case you want to read it). I can therefore say, hand on heart, it IS POSSIBLE to negotiate other road users, including the fools, the halfwits, the impatient, and the sheer bloody-minded, when driving a bus. It just takes a little more planning, is all.

Additionally, and casting no aspersions or insults to you at all, it's entirely possible that you never saw the indicator on the bus in the first place - that's happened to me more than once: There I am, I've disembarked and boarded a bunch of passengers, I've closed the doors, done my eight-point check (doors, left mirror, front, right mirror, right blind spot, front again, left again, right again (takes a couple of seconds, max, and I've then indicated, handbrake still on, done the mirrors again, and I'm still waiting for a gap in traffic. All of a sudden, there's a gap, so footbrake on, handbrake off, check mirrors and blind spot, release footbrake, gently pull away and WHOA! ANCHORS! Wherethehelldidhecomefrom?!

Happens to us all.