School Bus RR Track

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School Bus Incidents

This section of the site is devoted to incidents involving School buses. Videos were captured by my FHD digital Dashboard Cameras. All drivers shown on this Web site were reported to the police in the town where the violations occurred.


This video was shot at approximately 2:58PM by my forward-facing digital Dashboard Camera. The location was Clementon, NJ on the Railroad Crossing on Blackwood-Clementon Road and Erial Road. The driver of the School Bus (#406) had actually stopped forward of the traffic arms, with the RR Crossing lights blinking and bells clanging. When the crossing barricade was lowered, it actually hit the roof of the bus approximately 3 or 4 feet from the windshield. The driver then backed up, and the barricade arm fell between the bus's windshield and the mirrors. Had the driver backed up further, the barricade arms would have been damaged, and the mirrors torn off the bus.

See this video on YouTube:


You will notice at the very start of the video (33 seconds in), as the bus completes the left turn and approaches the railroad tracks, the red lights are blinking and the bells are sounding. At that point, there seemed to be plenty of time for the bus to stop within the prescribed distance. However, the driver continues past the point of the barricade's path, and 38 seconds into the video (5 seconds after the lights begin flashing), the barricades start to lower. 46 Seconds into the video, the barricade hits the top of the bus (on the roof of the bus). At this point, the front of the bus is dangerously close to the tracks, as the driver of the bus realizes the situation and begins to back up, and the driver of the car behind the bus sees the bus backing up, and follows suit.

As the bus backs up, the barricade falls off the roof of the bus, and lands forward of the right mirror and behind the right mirror (this is clear in the Cell phone clip in the second part of the video, 3 minutes and 12 seconds in). At this point, if the bus moves in either direction, the barricade bar and / or the bus' mirrors would be damaged.

The bus was now just barely clear of the tracks, and out of danger. Twenty five seconds into the video, the approaching train sounds the whistle. I'm sure that the train's camera (if there is one) captured the incident, and would reveal just how close this incident came to becoming a real tragedy.

After the train passes, the barricades are lifted, and there was no apparent damage (that I could see) to the bus or the barricades. As the bus passed me, the driver noticed that I was holding my Cell phone against the windshield of my Jeep, and she was visibly shaken.

Idiots on the road is why I have both front and rear-facing High Definition Dashboard Cameras in my Jeep, but this incident was totally unexpected.

After examining the video frame-by-frame, I cannot entirely blame the bus driver here. Firstly, there was only FIVE SECONDS of warning from the time the crossing lights started flashing and the barricades were lowered. Secondly, there is absolutely no pavement markings designating a Railroad Crossing, and the remaining markings are badly faded and worn away.

The Google Earth map (dated 10/7/2011) below shows an aerial view of the intersection. The yellow square denotes the position of the school bus, the red square was my position in my custom Jeep, and the two orange arrows show position of the RR Crossing signs and barricade mechanism.  You will note that there are no pavement markings denoting a Railroad Crossing, and this is not the only RR Crossing intersection in the area which is not clearly marked.

Mitigation of fault notwithstanding, this intersection is DANGEROUS because of faded / lack of markings, and the short warning traffic gets between the RR Crossing lights and bells and the barricades being lowered. The National Safety Council has Recommended Procedures for School Bus Drivers at Railroad Crossings (PDF) that this driver should have been familiar with.

Every defensive driver knows not to cross an intersection until you can get safely across. I am not at liberty to do an investigation here, but it seems that one is definitely in order. I emailed the Clementon Police, and several TV NEWS stations with links to this video and this Web page.

Whatever went wrong needs to be corrected before somebody gets killed here. It could be that the bus driver was distracted by a cell phone addiction (such as texting while driving); I have no way to know. As I write this, I realize that I came perilously close to having to pull injured or dead children out of a demolished School bus, and that would have done friggin' wonders for my PTSD.

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