January 1, 2012

We often talk about the special risks drivers face on roads in less urban areas of Oregon. On U.S. Highway 101 in Warrenton, in the northwest corner of the state, motorists may soon notice school buses making stops in the highway lanes to load and unload students. Everyone on that stretch of road should stay alert in order to avoid an accident or injury.

Compared to how students are typically loaded and unloaded, this will be a big change. Currently, students are picked up and dropped off on the side of the highway when buses pull off. There are four stops, one for each student, on the west side of the highway. The rest of the stops are on the east side of the highway, where the bus provides service to 15 students. There are a total of 68 students on this route, adding even more stops in various locations.

The new plan requires buses to stop in the lane nearest the highway’s shoulder. A set date for this change has not been announced. School officials, the Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon State Police are concerned about the plan. The superintendent of the Warrenton-Hammond School District expressed particular concern about students loading and unloading right on the highway.

The new plan is the state’s response to a district school bus accident last September. Several students suffered non-life-threatening injuries when a pickup truck ran into the bus as it crossed Hwy. 101 at Perkins Lane. Police cited the bus driver for disobeying a traffic control device.

The Oregon Department of Education evaluated the bus routes in the area following the crash. This change is the result of that evaluation. According to the report, it is not possible for buses to pull completely off of Highway 101 in order to pick up and drop off students.

Source: Seaside Signal, “Significant safety changes on Highway 101 following bus crash,” Jeremy C. Ruark, Jan. 11, 2012


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