Driving on I-40 through Chapel Hill and Durham has just gotten a little bit more dicey.
Along with fender benders, rear-enders, rubber-neckers and dawdling drivers add buses on the berm to the list of conditions that make for hazardous driving on I-40. The Department of Transportation has introduced a new “Bus on Shoulder System,” appropriately called BOSS. It gives Triangle buses exclusive right to ride the berm during traffic jams.
That’s good news and bad news! Good news for Triangle bus passengers who will be able to bypass the gridlock; bad news for drivers who already face the daunting challenge of the rush hour commute. Even worse, it could be perilous for those commuters who may not be aware of the new regulation.
However, DOT has taken steps to educate the public. Signs have been posted on the 20-mile stretch between ramp exits 270 and 282 alerting motorists to be aware of buses travelling on the berm or breakdown lane. But there are a few motorists who believe caution signs are meant for others to obey.
Buses will only be permitted to travel on the shoulders of I-40 when traffic slows down to 35 miles per hour or less. Bus drivers have received training and are required to yield to emergency vehicles. That raises the obvious question: Where to steer your car if it breaks down, blows a tire or runs out of gas?
Another concern is “copycat” drivers who see buses using the berm and think it’s okay for them to do the same. State troopers will be on the lookout for those scofflaws.
Besides North Carolina, 12 other states have implemented the BOSS system. There are no reports yet available related to accidents in which the bus on shoulder system was a factor. So for the time being buses will rule the road. Just another cause for driver frustration and road rage.