Stop for stopped school buses!

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Late in October in northern Indiana, three siblings—a nine-year-old girl and her six-year-old twin brothers—were killed, and another child seriously injured with several broken bones, when a woman did not recognize she was approaching, then passing, a stopped school bus. Though the bus had on its flashing lights and its STOP arm was out, the driver says she missed these signs.

Indy Star, our Indianapolis newspaper, followed up the story with information which are shocking and dismaying: https://www.indystar.com/story/news/education/2018/10/30/school-bus-stop-rules-what-drivers-should-know-indiana-traffic-laws/1819196002/

In the story, Indy Star reported that one day each school year Indiana school bus drivers count the vehicles that pass them when their bus’s stop arm is out. During the most recent count, 3,082 drivers illegally passed school buses. If that 3,082 were an average day, it means that over the course of the school year, school buses are passed in excess of 500,000 times, reported Indy Star.

That’s a half-million.

In one state.

Indiana’s population is nearly 6.7 million. The USA currently is almost 327 million. Therefore, Indiana has almost exactly 1/50th of the nation’s people.

Taking the 500,000 illegal passes for a year and multiplying them by fifty, we get this staggering number: 25 million.

It is possible that 25,000,000 times each school year, school buses are being illegally passed.

It is possible that 25,000,000 times each school year, drivers are either not paying attention, or in too big a hurry, or ignorant of the law, or just plain negligent regarding stopped school buses.

It is possible that 25,000,000 times each school year, children are being thrust into harm’s way.

This is almost incomprehensible.

I struggle to read stories which report these deaths of children—deaths which never had to happen. My heart is broken for the parents and family, who lost these precious children, who now have Grand Canyon-sized holes in their hearts. My mind tries to conceive what the driver is now experiencing, most likely a huge burden of guilt. I try to fathom the horror felt by the bus driver, who saw the crash happen to children whom he thought he was safely sending across the road.

The driver of the vehicle that hit the children is twenty-four. She’s married. In fact, she was returning from having taken her husband to work, and she had three children in her vehicle, including her brother. It likely was a typical morning for her, which was leading into a typical weekday.

She’s now charged with reckless homicide.

Surely, this young woman is just a regular person, who is loved in her family, liked by her friends, and valuable at her job.

Surely, she never desired to do any harm.

There is no good reason so many school buses are being illegally passed, that so many crashes are occurring, that children are being injured and killed.

Know the law in your state.

Obey the law in your state.

Be watchful when you drive.

Keep our children safe.

2 thoughts on “Stop for stopped school buses!

  1. Your comments and warning are timely, but will those who have a propensity to pass a stopped school bus read them? A related comment is that, during the 15 years that I was actively involved in running the FairTrain from Fishers to the Fairgrounds and back, at least once each year, we noted that a school bus failed to stop for a railroad crossing, as is required by state law. That’s not of great consequence as respects the infrequency of the FairTrain activity, but if these drivers do not stop for CSX, Indiana Rail Road, or Norfolk Southern crossings, they are also endangering children’s lives. We were taught that, if we as the engineers saw a school bus stopped on a railroad crossing, we were to put the brakes into “emergency” so as not to hit it. These incidents were duly noted in the dispatchers’ logs and were reported to the appropriate school organization. We profess to be concerned about children’s safety. Therefore, we should act as if we were concerned.

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