What can I do about the cars honking at the school bus?
August 9, 2012 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Cars honking at the school bus

For a few young kids in our development, the school buses usually pick up and drop off the kids in front of their residence. The development has one way system and thats the only way every car entering in the development has to go. These roads are enough for only one car to pass and the school buses stop in the middle to drop or pick up the kids.

I noticed that some idiots don't even have patience for a minute to wait behind the school bus (esp. when the kids are asleep on the bus, takes time to get them off) and they start honking.

What do I do about these idiots? It really gets on my nerve. I informed the development superintendent but she tells me what I want to hear and does nothing. Of course, I can ignore but I am curious to know if I can do anything legally (something equivalent to slap on their wrist for their action).

This is in NY, if that makes any difference.

Thanks in advance.
posted by zaxour to Law & Government (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think there is anything you can do. Let it go. Maybe write a letter to the editor of your local paper, or talk to your neighbors. Or be passive-aggressive and put flyers in everybody's mailbox asking for courtesy for schoolchildren.
posted by chickenmagazine at 11:59 AM on August 9, 2012

You can get the city/county/whatever to put up a "No Honking" sign; my friend's mom managed to do this on their block. Here's how you request it in NYC. If you elsewhere, you'll need to get in touch with the county.
posted by griphus at 12:01 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Here's what they look like.
posted by griphus at 12:02 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

People who ignore the idea of safety around stopping at school buses are also going to ignore signs. The honking is already illegal so I'd give the police non-emergency number a call one day and explain your concern "Hey, everyday [explain as above] and I'm concerned frustrated honkers might escalate their actions. Any chance you can have an officer out here one afternoon to explain the law to these drivers?"

These roads are enough for only one car to pass and the school buses stop in the middle to drop or pick up the kids.

Of course, it would be illegal to pass even if there was room so definitely report that if someone tries it.
posted by mikepop at 12:11 PM on August 9, 2012 [9 favorites]

What do I do about these idiots?

Other than getting the municipality to install a "No Honking" sign and enforce it--and, I mean, good luck with that--not a whole heck of a lot.
posted by valkyryn at 12:14 PM on August 9, 2012

You could stand outside with a poster that says HONKING WILL NOT MAKE THE SCHOOL BUS MOVE FASTER, YOU IDIOT. It might make you feel better.

I don't think there's much you can actually do, short of the no honking sign. I used to live on a one-way school bus route street, and folks would always do this, so you have my sympathies.

(One time, I happened to actually be walking right by them when it was happening, and I shouted "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE ACCOMPLISHING HERE" at the driver. He told me to fuck off, but did stop honking. YMMV.)
posted by phunniemee at 12:49 PM on August 9, 2012

Talk to the police department about it. Some enforcement of rules regarding school buses may stem some of this behavior, especially if the problem seems to be localized to a development.

Does the development have a HOA? They'd be another place to go. Having a residential development that's hostile to school buses can't be a good thing.
posted by quince at 12:50 PM on August 9, 2012

Here's how you request it in NYC. If you elsewhere, you'll need to get in touch with the county.

I believe the No Honking signs are "enforced" through ยง24-237 of the NYC Noise Code. (No claxons, air horns, gongs, or steam whistles.) There may not be a similar ordinance in other jurisdictions.
posted by zamboni at 12:55 PM on August 9, 2012

I'm with call the po-po and talk to someone.

This is just stupid, what do these morons think? The bus is going to pull away with a kid hanging on for dear life?

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:10 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I were in your position -- where the bus is stopping and blocking the one place where cars must enter the development -- I would do a few things...

First: I would take a deep breath and realize that, well, it is pretty rude to block the only entrance, preventing people from reaching their homes at the end of their workday commute. Honking may not solve the problem, but it certainly helps you realize that the bus's placement is an inconvenience, and that's actually a step towards solving the problem (ie you know there is one for them, and their honking makes it a problem for you too.)

Second: I would take a deep breath and realize that, well, they're not idiots, necessarily. You could come out and scream at them for honking, and they might think you were an idiot for that, right? Best if we assume people are frustrated, not stupid.

Third: with that new perspective, I would realize that the correct thing to do is work with the development owners, police department and school bus company to figure out a better place for the bus to stop. I recommend you do the same.
posted by davejay at 1:15 PM on August 9, 2012 [7 favorites]

side note: I think the honking is a dick move way of approaching the problem, mind you; I am just honest enough with myself to know that if I came home and kept having to sit and wait for a minute or two to go the last 200 feet to reach my house, after fighting traffic, I would find it really, really frustrating...and I have school-age kids myself. Best to focus on the problem you can control -- the bus blocking traffic -- than the problem you cannot -- people being frustrated by the bus blocking traffic.
posted by davejay at 1:17 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, if I wasn't clear, that No Honking sign is about as enforceable as the Curb Your Dog, but the point is if it's up there, it'll cut down on the noise at least a bit, just because not every asshole driver knows that. It's like having dummy security cameras up in a store.
posted by griphus at 1:30 PM on August 9, 2012

Could you write a letter to the editor of your local paper?
posted by Elly Vortex at 1:50 PM on August 9, 2012

For starters, they are, as you note, idiots. And 'no honking' signs or flyers aren't likely to make a dent in their thick skulls.

Have you tried calling the school district? They surely have a vested interest in bus safety and the laws surrounding school busses. After them, I'd call the police non-emergency number.

Alternatively, a friend of mine lived on a side street people used to use as an illegal cut through; the street's posted speed limit was 25 mph, but some fools used to race down it at 50-60 mph, never minding all the kids in this residential area! Anyhow, my friend and a neighbor finally managed to solve a lot of it all by themselves: the two of them stood on a corner for several mornings, one of them armed with a light meter and the other with a video camera --- and no, it's certainly not illegal in any way for two citizens to stand on the corner pointing a broken light meter and a turned-off video camera towards the street! No implication that they were cops or anything --- they were in their normal clothes, jeans & shirts; but if speeders happened to think it's a speed trap? Great!
posted by easily confused at 2:19 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Talk to the honker. Next time this happens, walk out to their car, tap on their window, and ask them if they actually think that honking will solve the problem. They probably don't. Explain that while they are clearly irritated by the delay, you are irritated by the honking.
posted by adamrice at 2:33 PM on August 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree that the school district might have a solution, as they likely face similar things regularly. If you call them, and ask for the transportation supervisor, they could probably point you in the right direction if they can't address the problem themselves.

But I do like the broken light meter gig. Very clever.
posted by Capri at 2:37 PM on August 9, 2012

The "broken light meter gig" calls to mind a scene from either 'Homicide' or 'The Wire' where a detective sitting in his car uses an aluminum foil-covered Quaker Oats cylinder for the same purpose. That might be a little bit more fun, on the grounds of general silliness.
posted by mr. digits at 4:20 PM on August 9, 2012

Could you clarify - Each kid gets dropped off at their own driveways? There aren't any actual bus stops? If that's the case then I can see how drivers would be frustrated... especially if the bus stops 10 times in one development. Perhaps you could call the school and suggest one or two stops?
posted by KogeLiz at 4:21 PM on August 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

What times does the bus pick up and then drop off?

Dear Neighbor
The school bus picks up kids on our road from approximately 7:10 to 7:25, and drops them off from approximately 3:00 to 3:15. Lately, I've noticed a lot of drivers honking while waiting for kids to get on and off the bus. I have some thoughts:
1. If your kids are ready for the bus when it comes, other neighbors have less wait time. Same with being ready to get off the bus in the afternoon.
2. Now that you know when to expect the bus, you can plan your departure for work around it, and consider it when you're on your way home.

Thanks for considering this; I know we all want kids to be safe, and to get where we need to go. Best, Xaxour.

Deliver to all houses on the route. Then, make brownies, and follow the bus, giving out brownies to people waiting behind the bus, and a copy of your note, and thanking them for being good neighbors. Might not work, but as a driver who is impatient in the morning, I'd definitely plan my departure if I knew when the bus was likely to make me late, and i instantly like people who give me brownies.

Also, some of the buses in my area will pull over to allow cars to pass. They do it when no kids are getting on/off, so it's safe, and it's greatly appreciated. So, maybe some brownies for bus drivers, too.
posted by theora55 at 4:37 PM on August 9, 2012

Uh, it's illegal to pass stopped school buses whether or not the bus blocks the road.

When my kids were small and we lived in Pensacola, cars passed the stopped school bus my son got on all the time...till I mentioned it to the right person on the police force. After that my mornings at the bus stop were like an amusing episode of Cops, the police got to write lots and lots of tickets, and the kids and the bus driver cheered.

Talk to your local law enforcement and see what they recommend.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:14 PM on August 9, 2012

"Uh, it's illegal to pass stopped school buses whether or not the bus blocks the road."

They aren't passing the school bus - according to OP there isn't enough room. They're honking.
posted by KogeLiz at 7:33 AM on August 10, 2012

I think she was referring to the idea that if the bus was better positioned cars could pass? Which they couldn't (legally), from either direction, if the school bus was unloading/loading passengers. I wouldn't be surprised if the bus stops in the middle of the road because previously cars tried to squeeze by.

If that's the case then I can see how drivers would be frustrated... especially if the bus stops 10 times in one development.

On a long street near my house the school bus stops a half-dozen times over the length of the road (at designated stops, not at individual houses). If I get caught behind it I think "oh, bad timing" but I don't work up to frustration. It's just the way traffic is around here. People in the development presumably should be used to this by now. This is like someone on an island honking at a raised drawbridge.
posted by mikepop at 8:09 AM on August 10, 2012

I missed the part where the bus is stopping at every house. Unless the homes are really spread out, that's just insanity.

I grew up in a not-huge neighborhood with lots of twisty streets and offshoots and cul-de-sacs, and even stopping at every street (let alone every house) would have been ridiculous. So instead, there were a few designated bus stops along the artery road of our subdivision. The kids would all walk there from their separate houses in the morning (probably never a distance of more than 200 yards) and get picked up as a group.

Maybe you could propose something like that to your housing development and solve two problems: reduce the amount of time irate honkers have to honk, and make the bus route a lot easier to manage.
posted by phunniemee at 8:37 AM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts and I apologize for not to so clear to begin with. My 'making it easy to understand' didn't make right effect.

So our development consists of 3 buildings of 54 apartments each. In the development, the buses come only twice daily to pick and drop the kids at only one stop. And the kids are ready when the buses arrive so its only the amount of time that it takes to get the kids on the bus and put them in the carseat on the bus. All these kids are less than 5 years old and 4 in total, 3 on one bus and one on the other (and this is DS). Both the buses take less than a minute. It only takes time in the afternoon when the kids are asleep, which is no more than 2 minutes.

We can not find other spot as, the development's gate is on a really busy street and it becomes VERY difficult in winter to wait in the cold (and hence these stops are close to these kid's building). The point that irks me is, these guys don't mind waiting behind a school bus for older kids outside the development for 5 minutes but they don't have a minute to wait inside the development.

I really liked theora55's idea and I am going to put such note on each door with little modification of contents, till I work with the development manager to find a solution for this issue.
Final resort is, put a note directly on the car that honked with a sensible request.
posted by zaxour at 11:58 AM on August 11, 2012

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