Next week is National School Bus Safety Week. All too often do you hear about a driver getting ticketed for going around a stopped school bus. I am not sure of their reason. I can’t believe that driver’s don’t see the school bus – after all, its big, yellow, has flashing red lights and even its own stop sign. So if seeing the school bus isn’t the problem, it has to be that drivers just don’t care about the potential consequences and choose to ignore the law. This callous and reckless disregard of traffic laws permeates the Staten Island driving culture, from passing a school bus, driving through a red light or not stopping at a stop sign.
I was driving the other day and was stopped at a red light at the end of Richmond Road and Morley Avenue, waiting to complete my right turn. While I was driving, I had previously noticed a car behind me trying to pass other cars. When I was stopped, I noticed the car pull out from behind me and continue straight, as if to make a left hand turn onto Richmond Road. The light was green in that direction but instead of making a left turn, the car proceeded to make a right turn. Obviously, the traffic laws don’t pertain to that driver. I am sure that the driver simply couldn’t be bothered to wait for the light to turn red and made up their own rules.
As a parent, I take my child to school every morning. I always notice that approaching drivers seem tentative about stopping for the bus. The rules are very simple. You must stop – in either direction – when approaching a stopped school bus with its red lights on and its stop sign deployed. Its not a judgment call – you must stop. If you don’t, the consequences can be severe. Severe in that a child could be killed. Last week, a driver apparently felt that she didn’t have to stop for a school bus and proceeded to drive around the cars that were lawfully stopped. That driver clipped a 9-year old girl getting off the bus, she sustained sever injuries but thankfully she is expected to survive. The driver didn’t have a good excuse for what she had done – was she late for work? What if the girl had been killed? What if that was your child getting off the bus? Stopping for a school bus is the law. We need to obey it. If we don’t, we are going to need harsher penalties to stop people from passing the school bus. This attitude that the law does not apply to “me” must change before more people are hurt.