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A Very Simple Way to Save the Life of a Child

Updated on June 10, 2019
Mr Archer profile image

As a former Director of Transportation for public schools, the author has first hand experience with this issue.

Vehicle that struck and killed three children
Vehicle that struck and killed three children | Source

It happens all too often

A news story leading the evening news: a child hit and severely injured or even killed by a car speeding by a stopped school bus, striking a child either getting onto the bus or getting off of it. The bus, bright canary yellow in color, is stopped, bright red LED lights all over it flashing its warning to the world yet for whatever reason, a driver of another vehicle fails to heed the warning and drives alongside of the bus directly at the innocent child attempting to exit or board the bus.

The child is struck by the vehicle, and in that instant lives are destroyed.

And all of it, every single incident, is entirely preventable.

As a Director, as a parent

As both a Director of Transportation and as a parent I have witnessed these incidents. As a parent, I watched it literally this morning AFTER seeing a commercial for ABC's morning show detailing this very thing this morning. Ironic? No, not really; rather all too common, common enough that it happens every single day somewhere in our country. This morning, I was at the bus stop with my high school aged son as the bus came to a stop. Being a former Director of Transportation I am at all times aware of the surroundings at his stop and this morning I watched as a grey late model Chevrolet pickup approached from the right on the two lane road the stop is on, watched as the truck absolutely and intentionally sped up to avoid being halted by the bus. The amber lights, on for 500' as per Missouri law, were flashing. Everything took place in an area free of obstruction and with the ability to be seen for several hundred yards yet the truck simply did not care.

Maybe this person was late, you ask? Well, in the direction the truck was traveling there was no business to speak of save a couple of motels and a marina on the lake, nothing worth my child's life. Ultimately, I believe this person was simply going fishing and didn't want to slow down for the minute or so it would take to stop and let my child board the bus safely.

They just did not care. Not for someone else, only themselves. And that, my friend, is the crux of the matter: selfishness, pure and simple. Selfishness at not wanting to be impeded by anyone or anything in their quest for their pursuit of life.

Stop!!!!!

That is what I wanted to talk to you about this morning, the means to become your very own Super Hero. And it is so very simple to accomplish: all you have to do is stop. Stop for the bus when it is stopped. Do not drive alongside of it, a child is there waiting to get on or off the bus. There is a reason it is stopped! I hate this word, but DUH! A bus will not stop on the roadway for no reason! If you pass a stopped bus you run the risk of killing a child. Do you really want that burden for the rest of your life?! Do you want to ruin someone else's life? Unless you belong in a mental facility, the answer should be a resounding no.

Some people who pass a stopped bus are being inattentive, on the cell phone, applying makeup, fiddling with their radio, reading a book or any number of other senseless activities one shouldn't be doing while driving a speeding weapon that weighs a ton or more. Some are people who have no reason to be driving at all due to age or health. Some are so busy talking to their friends in the car they cannot be bothered actually paying attention to the outside world, feeling they are invincible and the world owes them to get out of their way. in each case, they are wrong. YOU are the driver of something that can, does and will kill others, up to and including yourself. YOU are not immune to catastrophe, none of you.

At one school district I worked for, I was called out to the scene of an accident involving the bus my children were on. In addition to the feeling I had when one of my buses was involved in the accident, I had the other, more intense feeling of having children on board that bus. When I arrived on scene, it was to horror: but not the horror I feared. All of the children on the bus were scared but healthy (a bus is built like a tank) but upon seeing the vehicle that struck the bus I feared we were looking at a fatal accident.

A Dodge pickup had struck the bus in the left rear as it attempted to avoid the collision. The passenger side of the truck was within a few inches of the drivers side of the truck. But somehow, the driver was okay with barely a scratch. How, I still do not know. The driver, a newly minted 16 year old driver had been speeding (almost 60 on a 45 mph road) and failed to see the bus stopped in front of him. At the last second he swerved and struck the bus a glancing blow that still caved the entire side of the truck in. The bus had a mark six feet high on the left rear corner of it...

Directly beneath the window of the seat my daughter was seated in. Literally, ten inches from her face. Had it sailed even a few inches higher the window could have exploded in her face.

Or perhaps some portion of the bus window frame or the truck itself could have penetrated the window and my daughter's head.

You WILL be caught and punished

For those of you who are of the mindset "Oh, I won't get caught" be warned: virtually every single school bus on the road today has cameras. Most have at least one camera facing forward, an increasing number have one facing to the rear as well. Their capability is such that even if you are moving quickly your license plate is plain to see.

Now, say you are not the owner of the car. You borrowed someone's car for some reason or it is a rental. It does not matter, you will be found. If you pass a stopped school bus in the process of loading or unloading children, the stop arm will be out and red lights flashing, the owner of the vehicle will be held accountable unless they can prove someone else was in possession of that vehicle at that moment in time.

Think your parents or friends won't throw you under the bus? Think again. The penalties for running a stop arm are increasing every year. It might be as mild as a $250 fine and points on your drivers license for a first occurrence, or as steep as a $5,000 fine and 90 days loss of license for the same first occurrence. These penalties vary by state. Is it really worth it to lose your license and a chunk out of your pocketbook for a few seconds saved driving somewhere? Is it worth it to become a felon with a vehicular homicide in your life to text while driving?

Could you look at yourself in the mirror for the rest of your life if you killed a six year old child because you were in a hurry?

Just be patient and give these innocent children the chance to grow up. After all, someone gave you the same opportunity.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2019 Mr Archer

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    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      13 months ago from Missouri

      Glad he was okay! The time boarding and de-boarding a bus are considered to be the most dangerous moments a child can have regarding school. And while he should have looked, as the driver should have cleared the area before motioning him across, still the child should be able to feel safe at a bus stop. Sad to think they are actually most at risk in those moments. Take care Liz.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      13 months ago from UK

      I recall now a friend's son being hit by a car. To be fair he didn't look before crossing after getting off the school bus and the car driver wouldn't have had much chance of missing him. Luckily the car was not going very fast and he escaped with cuts and bruises and is now in his 30s. It could have been very different.

    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      13 months ago from Missouri

      Thank you Liz; yes it is. This is something I simply do not understand. A bus is large, yellow and cannot stop quickly so what excuse is there for being surprised by it stopping and driving around it? None I can see. Either simple arrogance, ignorance or selfishness.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      13 months ago from UK

      This is a sobering article. Tragic to hear of young lives needlessly being cut short by careless and thoughtless driving.

    • Mr Archer profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr Archer 

      13 months ago from Missouri

      Thank you R Talloni for your read and comment. Yes we have become such a selfish society in some areas yet such a giving one in others. As for what constitutes a requirement to stop it can vary state to state. In Missouri for instance, a two lane is mandatory, a two lane with a left turn lane between the two lanes is mandatory, yet four lanes it is not. A highway with two lanes is mandatory and a divided highway is not. If the speed limit is 60 mph, the amber lights must be on no less than 500 feet before coming to a stop; if it is less, then 300 feet. For basic knowledge if you are on a two lane street (which is where most children live and bus stops are located) you slow down if you see the amber lights begin to flash, and when they become red you stop period. It is strange when people say they didn't see the school bus; after all, it is over ten feet tall, a bright yellow with nearly fifty lights on the front, sides and rear, with two red stop arms on the side and lights on them, a great many of which are designed to be seen when flashing. If you don't see it, you are not driving in a safe manner and you are a danger to others including yourself.

      Take care and thank you once more.

    • profile image

      RTalloni 

      13 months ago

      That people have to be told they are being videoed in order to get them to slow down around school busses is a sad comment on how selfish the culture is. We live in a me first society and measures to protect children are crucial. Thank you for speaking up from the perspective of experience and authority. Is it possible to outline the rules about stopping for busses in this post, or to create another one with them. I have been a little confused at times, for instance when traffic on 3 lanes is dealing with a stopping bus and some drivers try to stop while others are moving on.

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