School Buses: What Might We Do To Make Children Safer?
Are our children really safe in their buses?
With three of my children in school at ages 8, 7, and 7, the latter two being my twin sons, I was following a school bus which had just passed me on the the local Interstate. I was thankful my own children were not in it, but they could have been. Other parents children were inside, and it was hurtling along at ten miles per hour over the already high speed limit.
Inside the children were talking excitedly about the morning's field trip. The two accompanying teachers, or bus monitors, were engaged in their own conversation. I have no idea what the bus' driver was thinking, but I was thinking he should be fired.
Any driver, of any vehicle, who chooses to exceed the posted speed limit, is not just taking his own life into his or her hands (as we each do anytime we drive, even safely) they are taking the lives of any accompanying passengers in their hands, and they are certainly taking the lives of other commuters in their hands as well. (Alcohol impaired drivers do so with varying degrees of contempt.)
Keep in mind that if even small road litter hits a vehicle which itself is moving at 65 miles per hour, that small litter will dent something on the vehicle or possibly crack the windshield. That often happens at even lower speeds. The car, truck, or bus that hits something will do far more damage. Furthermore, vehicles are sizable objects consisting of man-made parts which break down, wear out, and can fail at any time. I won't attempt to list the myriad things that can go wrong in an instant with any vehicle and at the wrong time and place.
While we tell our children (or should) to "buckle up for safety" and while law enforcement and the Ad Council now warn us with "Click it, or ticket!" most school buses carrying their precious loads of parents' precious children, are lacking any seatbelts. They also have higher centers of gravity than cars, are thinner skinned, and surely don't have protective airbags.
The children inside school buses are precious packages poorly wrapped.
Most school buses are clearly identifiable by their license plate, and possibly from a school's own identification letters and numbers.
I don't think it is too much to ask, that if you see a school bus being operated unsafely, report the date, time, place, and circumstances promptly to their school authorities, and possibly to the police. That same school bus I saw was likely to be making a return trip
Admittedly, the lone school bus driver, or even monitors, if the bus has them, would have a job similar to that of many parents trying to insure that seatbelts would be used properly throughout every trip, even if seatbelts continue to be added by more and more school districts. (It seems to be a different story, however, for commercial planes landing, taking off, and flying through rough weather, though most of their passengers are adults, and any children are usually accompanied.)
"Safety First" is a good motto. "Children First" might be an even better one we can all help each other to take more seriously. Another good motto might just be "Slow Down for Pete's Sake" with a photo of any schoolchild in your extended family.
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Accident Injuries and Schoolbus Facts
- National Coalition For School Bus Safety
This link provides some statistics on injuries and deaths from accidents involving schoolbuses, and provides links to other statistics and discussions on this subject.