I’m with Kathy Cox on this: Slow down, people!

When you see this scene, stop. Nothing is so important to risk a child's life

When you see this scene, stop. Nothing is so urgent as to risk a child's life. (FRANK NIEMEIR/AJC)

State School Superintendent Kathy Cox wrote an op-ed for  National School Bus Safety Week. Her piece resonated with me because of all the dangerous driving I see around schools.

My work route takes me through Georgia State. I am always daydreaming about land torpedoes as I watch drivers harass and endanger students attempting to cross the streets between classes. My torpedo target the other day would have been a  woman making a left. In her haste, she almost ran down a student crossing the street. Rather than being ashamed of herself, the driver hit her horn in annoyance that somebody had the nerve to be in the crosswalk.

Here is what Cox wrote:

Slow down in school zones.  The speed limit is lower in these areas
because when near a school, students are moving on and off the bus, being dropped off by their parents, or walking to the school.

Slowing down in these zones gives drivers time to react.

Slow down for yellow flashing lights on school buses.

Stop for red flashing lights and the stop arm.  I know it can be tempting to speed up when you see those flashing lights, but it is very dangerous to try passing it before it stops.  The red lights mean students are getting on and off the bus. When drivers move too quickly and aren’t cautious, accidents can happen.

On a road with two-way traffic, cars traveling in both directions should stop, unless it is a divided highway with a median.  Students may be crossing the road.

Finally, as we enter the winter months and prepare for the end of daylight savings time, more students will be waiting for the bus in the dark. Exercise extra caution, especially in the mornings.

I am tired of reading stories about children struck and killed by careless drivers.  We all need to slow down and pay attention.

9 comments Add your comment

Ole Guy

October 22nd, 2009
1:27 am

Ya gotta remember one thing…PEOPLE ARE STUPID! Both drivers and pedestrians share this bit of anti-social trait. The reason I label this anti-social is due to the fact that all-too-many folks go about their daily bidings with their heads in the clouds, completely oblivious to the fact that others are in proximity and share the same objectives of simply going from here to there. From a safety standpoint, it’s easy to direct dos and don’ts to the motor vehicle operator. After all, he/she is in control (somewhat) of a 3,000 pound battering ram. Does this relieve the pedestrian of safety responsibilities…NO WAY! How many times has one observed a pedestrian, either looking straight ahead or face down, presumably lost in deep thought, crossing a throughfare? As for kids’ propensity to being struck by moving vehicles…once these “future adults” reach the age of reason, generally around the early elementary years, should they not be made aware of the importance of “basic situational awareness”. I know, there are those adults who will retort “but they’re just babies”! Maybe it’s just me but I somehow tend to feel that we insist on treating kids as kids for far too long…perhaps that’s why we see so much irresponsibility in the adult world (but that’s another story for another time). Adults and teens behind the wheel are presumed to possess a modicum of responsibility; when the priviledge associated with that responsibility is abused, there is a price to pay. But should not that very same responsibility extend to pedestrians as well, both kids and adults?

ScienceTeacher671

October 22nd, 2009
6:14 am

Not much to disagree on here. Down here, some of the school buses are barreling along over the speed limit, too.

Maureen, could you check the filters? I think there are several snagged posts…

Ernest

October 22nd, 2009
6:48 am

Does anyone know if it is a felony to pass a school bus or speed through a school zone? I ask wondering if stiffer penalties will help. Unfortunately, there are some citizens that will disobey the law regardless.

Pat

October 22nd, 2009
9:22 am

This is a topic that infuriates me. I drive though school zones everyday. I am driving the posted school zone speed limit and have people constantly on my bumper. The worst offenders for speeding in school zones are the parents dropping their kids off for school! The reduced speed limit is for YOUR KIDS SAFETY! But they don’t care if the police are there to help direct traffic or not, why can’t these police do something when they darn well know the 25 mph speed limit is being broken? They worst I’ve seen is in front of Arcado Elementary in Lilburn.

As far as bus drivers breaking speed limits, I have been on Hwy 29 in Lilburn, speed limit is 40 mph, I have been behind the buses driving a good 50 on this stretch of the road before, kids bouncing around in the bus, etc.

I guess the law doesn’t apply to everyone!

DeKalb Conservative

October 22nd, 2009
9:46 am

If people were really serious about this topic, putting up signs wouldn’t be enough (and having a very occasional police officer enforce it). I think it’s a fair statement that if school systems and communities really were serious about protecting kids that they would not have school buses performing parallel drop-offs next to a school building on the road side.

More of a problem in older schools ITP, by relying solely on signs and not putting efforts to re engineer how school bus traffic flows with drop offs is putting students lives in danger.

Finally, kids practice ‘emergency school bus’ evacuations periodically. Wouldn’t it be honest if EVERY child, regardless of age was shown the after effects of what the scene looks like, including graphic details, of a child running out in front of a school bus w/o thinking?

1. Signs
2. Re Engineering bus drop offs
3. Graphic Video

Only one of these are getting done.

Lomo

October 22nd, 2009
11:46 am

I agree 100% that drivers need to chill out, especially in school zones and around buses. Problem is, I doubt any of these crazy drivers are reading this blog, except for a handful who are probably in denial that they are part of the problem. So how do we stop them? Maybe we assign some police cars to follow buses around on their routes once in a while, and park some police cars near school crosswalks. Personally, I’d even agree to an increase in my taxes if I knew the money would go toward this effort.

catlady

October 23rd, 2009
12:24 pm

When I was in grad school (not in GA)the city I lived in was pretty lawless in most ways, including things like running lights. What you did NOT see, however, was speeding in school zones. They had fairly small neighborhood schools that had at least 1 cop morning and evening on a motorcycle people actually TIPTOED through the school zones (I had to drive through 5 on my way to the University.) Zero tolerace,and everyday enforcement did the job in an otherwise out of control city.

KennesawMa

October 23rd, 2009
12:57 pm

I have to pass through 3 schools zones each morning and it AMAZES me how fast people drive through them, particularly teenage boys on the way to high school, men in fancy sports cars, and women in huge SUVs. It is as if the rules do not apply to them. I often wish I could put out tire spikes and stop them in their tracks. Just because you do not see children on sidewalks does not mean it is OK to drive fast. Idiots!
Also, I have to agree with an earlier poster than pediatrians MUST be held accountable as well. We all understand that peds have the right of way, but to step into traffic without looking or slowly wander across a crosswalk is totally irresponsible. You may have the right of way, but a car/truck will always win the fight.

catlady

October 24th, 2009
8:54 am

I’d like it to be against state law to be driving a car on a cellphone within 500 feet (or something) of a school. I have “parent pick up” duty (it is the KIDS who are being picked up) and at least 60% of the parents are on cell phones. We have had a number of near misses. Let one kid get killed….