Is five minutes worth a life?

Published 7:16 pm Monday, August 20, 2018

You leave the house for work one morning. It’s a typical day, and maybe you’re running a little bit behind. Your normal route puts you behind a school bus. Stop after stop, you wait for kids to get on the bus, and soon you’re running late. You make the decision to pass the bus during a stop.

At this point, one of a few things might happen. You might pass the bus without incident. But the camera on board catches your license plate. The N.C. Highway Patrol follows up with the incident and soon you’re facing a $500 fine, a court date and a possible five points on your license.

That’s the best-case scenario.

In the worst case, you may hit a child, causing them injury. At that point, you’re looking at a $1,000 fine and possible jail time with a Class I felony on your record. Not to mention the fact that you have harmed a child.

But that’s not the worst that could happen.

You speed around the bus and strike a child with enough impact to be fatal. You have taken a life. You have robbed a family of their beloved. You face a $2,500 fine, a class H felony and possible imprisonment. Yet all that is nothing compared to the suffering your actions have caused. Your life is forever changed, and another life is permanently extinguished.

If all this sounds dire, that’s because it is.

These are the real consequences that can arise when a person passes a stopped school bus. In 2016, the Kansas State Department of Education’s National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey reported that 6 children were killed throughout the United States by vehicles at school bus stops. One was a 16-year-old boy in North Carolina who was killed while crossing the street to load onto his school bus.

Next time you think you’re in a big enough hurry to pass a stopped bus, ask yourself if that extra five minutes on a commute is really worth another human being’s life.