Reader Douglas W. Nelms of Herndon raises an interesting point about school buses -- and inadvertently flushes out a piece of information of which many people may be unaware.

"I don't mind the few minutes it takes to wait behind a school bus while it's loading or unloading," Doug writes. "But I've noticed too often that the drivers seem to forget that authority begets responsibility.

" . . .If I'm about to pass a moving school bus on a big four-lane road and the driver turns on the flashing lights half a block from the bus stop, do I have to wait or can I pass?

"No kid is going to board that bus while it's moving -- but the lights are flashing . . . .Methinks some of these drivers have an arrogance of righteousness about their job."

Methought so, too, Doug -- until I checked into the law.

In every major jurisdiction in the Washington area, school bus drivers are required to turn on their flashing lights at least 100 feet before a stop.

The idea is to give drivers like Doug ample warning of an upcoming stop. And the response required of drivers like Doug is to stop as soon as they see the flashing lights -- regardless of how premature they may seem, and regardless of whether kids can be getting on or off at the time the lights start flashing.