Earlier this month, before the school year began, we offered our regular warning to drivers. Watch out for students, we said. Lives and futures are at stake. But according to a one-day test conducted in April, we should have also warned you to watch out around school buses.
Cue the clip from the story, written Topeka Capital-Journal reporter Tim Carpenter:
Jim Porter, the southeast Kansas representative on the Kansas Board of Education, said he was alarmed 1,040 of 3,300 buses involved in the survey were improperly passed by motorists. The sample included only three-fourths of the state’s districts, he said, but it exposed the recklessness some people have shown for welfare of children standing along roads.
We can’t overstate how bad this is. To make the paragraph more explicit — more than 30 percent of the buses were passed. If a school bus has its arm extended and its lights on, all cars must stop. That includes cars behind the bus and cars heading toward it. It doesn’t matter if the road is two or four lanes. (Traffic on the other side of a median is the exception.) Every single car must stop as the bus picks up or drops off students.
Every. Single. Car.
That’s not the worst of it, unfortunately. According to Porter, 19 vehicles on that single day actually passed the right side of buses. Imagine for a moment the kind of risk that creates for children. Imagine for a moment that those children are yours.
Kathy Busch, chairwoman of the Kansas Board of Education, pointed out that the education department has started a new bus safety campaign. “We’ve got to have folks really aware and stop for those school buses,” she said. “There isn’t anything more important than getting our kids on and off that bus and to school safely.”
You pass buses at your own risk. You could face a fine and court costs that total more than $400. But that cost pales in comparison to the immeasurable toll of injuring a child — or putting his or her life at risk.
So pay attention when you’re on the road. During the morning and afternoon especially, but throughout the day, too, watch for those yellow vehicles and their red lights. Put safety above all else. Slow down and stop. Give children their education.
And give yourself a pat on the back for staying safe.