Letter: Bus ride landed my child in the emergency room (Photo)

After hearing countless stories of unsafe bus drivers in Lakewood, I felt compelled to share what happened to my 5-year-old this week.

He has mentioned to me in the past that his bus driver drives crazy and makes short stops. This week, however, I got to experience the ramifications first hand when my son wound up in the emergency with four staples in his head due to yet another short stop on his bus (see picture below).

This was actually not the first time he came home injured due to unsafe driving on his bus, it just was more extreme.

A few months ago, my 5-year-old nephew missed his stop on his bus route. Instead of bringing the child back to his school, or at least dropping him off safely at the next school on his route, his driver left him alone a mile away from his house near a main intersection. BH the child was found crying on the side of the road by a sweet couple who was able to track down his parents via his school. Instead of the bus company taking any sort of responsibility for the incident, they proceeded to black-mail the school saying that the only way they could ensure their children’s safety was to no longer drive for the school. This consequently left the school in a terrible bind and forced the parents to retract any efforts they had made to ensure that such an incident would not happen again to anyone else.

It’s time to make a change. The safety of our children is at serious risk. How many more stories like this do we need until we take action? Does something chas veshalom even more serious need to happen until we as parents take a stand and demand proper safety protocols and bus supervision for our beautiful children? We are entrusting our little gems in hands of these bus drivers every single day. We as parents need to band together and demand that bus companies implement safety regulations and are held accountable to ensure that the proper steps are taken when bus drivers mess up.

Let’s stand up for our children!
Safety comes first!

Anonymous

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41 COMMENTS

  1. It’s a tough one! To write such a letter effects all the bus drivers, when in fact most are nice, drive calmly and appropriately. One bad driver can ruin it for all. This is the rule with everything! When one yid makes a chillul hashem, we all end up suffering. Same idea. We have to daven that we get good drivers, short routes etc. This was all preordained on Rosh hashana! Refua shelaima

  2. Not to remove any liability from the bus companies or drivers but most of the children DO NOT sit in their seats properly (as we all witness when we drive behind the busses). With that said Just a question- if your son was sitting properly would this of happened or maybe prevented? Why are we allays blaming the drivers? When i see the way the kids act on the bus I daven that they should get home safely and not sent to the emergency room..

    I don’t think its ALWAYS someone else’s fault.

  3. If you ended up in the E.R. you should have said how it happened and then the hospital must call the police. If it was my child I would not have backed down even if the school looses the bus service

  4. We live in toms river and this year was the first time we got bussing to my son yeshiva. The bus driver does not drive till every single child is buckled in there seats. Plus they all have assigned seats. Lakewood should do the same

  5. Because of the pressure each and every bus driver in this town is under (by issues inside and outside the bus). The only logical solution is to get a law passed that any run that has children under the age of 7 should be required to have a bus aide. That is the way its done in most New York city schools.

    Now – knowing the limited amount of funds available for our private school bus runs I highly doubt anything can be done about it.

  6. I had the same thing with my son he fell and got a real hole in his head and the bus driver just continued driving and my son came home an hour later. It is scary!!!!!

  7. Why don’t we hear the full story – does the bus driver ever ask the kids to sit down and your child never listens? I remember being on a bus and there were always the same few kids who would never listen to the driver. Maybe you should teach your kids to be safe on a bus and not stand while the bus is moving! Stop blaming a bus driver who deals with kids that don’t listen – think about it you’re driving a bus trying to navigate the streets of Lakewood and you’ve got to deal with 50 hungry, tired kids in the back!! good luck!!

  8. I am a CDL bus driver and a new driver trainer for a Lakewood bus company. And I am often ridiculed because I insist that everyone on my bus stays seated the entire time. Safety of the kids is PARAMOUNT with me. I am truly sorry for your child getting injured. However, I must ask you: Do YOU teach your children to SIT DOWN ON THEIR BOTTOM while riding the bus??? I am so sick and tired of parents AND bus drivers not DEMANDING that everyone on the bus MUST SIT DOWN (AND NOT ON THEIR LEGS OR KNEES)!!! It seems to me that most school bus drivers i Lakewood, not only allow children to stand, but also allow them to stand on the seats, chas v’shalom!!! If the driver has to make a short stop, that child becomes a PROJECTILE!! If a child is given time after boarding the bus to safely take a seat before the bus starts moving, it is extremely unlikely that he/she will be injured unless the bus is actually involved in an accident. Parents and drivers must OWN this problem and insist that everyone STAYS SEATED on the bus.

  9. Shouldn’t we take responsibility as parents to teach our children to sit down in a moving vehicle.
    Own up to it, teach your children properly!!!

  10. I do not believe the author is saying that all bus drivers are a problem. Bh there are many wonderful bus drivers. However, schools rely heavily on the bus companies to the point that the system is rigged in their favor. So when problems do arise, there is not much that the parents can do. Therefore, parents need to come together as a unit and demand that certain things be changed (ie: having aides on buses for primary children). Blackmail when a parent come with a safety complaint is unacceptable. Take responsibility and ensure that parents feel safe entrusting their children with you.
    And as far as children being seated on the buses, you are correct. I happen to know that this child was in fact seated at the time of the incident. But yes, parents and bus drivers alike need to take responsibility as well. And other cars on the road: please be gracious and let bus drivers in so they can complete their route without having to drive aggresively.

  11. Sue the bus company. My kids tell me they have crazy drivers make making short stops – Both my daughters and sons.

    Don’t let the bus company threats get in your way, there needs to be accountability….

  12. I’m pretty sure that every bus is required to have a video (not 100% sure). Call the bus company and ask to have the video pulled and reviewed.
    That will give you a clear picture of what happened.

  13. Hope your son is doing ok!

    I’ve been saying this for years-
    BUS MONITORS

    Each bus should have a reliable adult
    who can oversee any issue that arises during the bus ride:
    ie. bullying, safety, rowdy behavior, bus driver issues

    I never understood why this can’t be worked out, it would solve so many problems that occur on the buses.

    Children should be watched at all times, this should be a top priority from all schools!

  14. Way way way too many bus drivers that I see drive terribly. Of course that doesnt meant that all do, but a scarily high percentage of those that I see are not coming to normal stops at stops signs, being overly aggressive, even (and unfortunately I saw this countless times) going to opposit lanes to cut off traffic! As a woman I once honked at a driver making a left from the right lane to beat traffic and the chasidic driver gave me the finger!! In front of all the kids and to me!?! Something must be done about this insanity!

  15. My kids had their sûre of crazy and unsafe drivers over the years.
    Several of them would daily pull out from the stop at a high speed right after the kids boarded the bus, never giving them a chance to move into the salon and get seated.

    Don’t blame the kids when the discussion is about how unsafe many drivers are.

    Just watch how some bus drivers are in the road…

  16. I live in Jackson. The bus drivers here that drive for Jackson township are amazing!! They make sure the child is seatbelted before they drive off from the stop on the way to school, and also on the way home. I feel they are safe and secure!

  17. I emailed the company in discussion, and faxed them too, about a month ago.
    As we are concerned about the safety of our children, in many cases the bus drivers are a danger to the riders, and pedestrians alike.
    No response or change of attitude has been noticed since then.
    May G-D continue to watch us.
    Only He can.

  18. That poor child. The part about the 5 year old nephew being stranded on an intersection is child endangerment, which is a crime. Crimes need to be reported to the police.

  19. These issues should be directed at the mainly at the bus companies rather than the bus drivers. The buck stops at the top. As long as the companies are not held accountable and are able to push these issues under the rug there will be no change.

  20. All bad bus drivers should be fired and prosecuted. It is certain companies not all. I have called up many times THEY DONT CARE. people should take videos with there sash cams and send it to the companies. if no response put it on line.
    That will get the companies to react

  21. My 6 year old son had a different traumatic experience where the bus driver yelled at him to get off the bus a few blocks away from our home for no good reason. My son was left there crying all alone, until b.h a nice fellow recognized him and brought him home.

  22. We’ve had our share of nasty drivers whom the kids were terrified of.
    We’ve also our share of exceptionally nice drivers who went of their way to make the kids feel safe.
    From the time I sent my oldest child to school I was always troubled by the fact that we so carefully choose our children’s schools, friends but we put them in a bus with a person we know nothing about who often speaks and acts in a way we do not want our children to see or hear.
    Certainly bus monitors should be mandatory or at least frum drivers! Our children should not have to ever be terrorized from an unkind driver!

  23. Kids aunt,
    you know for a fact that he was sitting because he told you so?
    Which kid ever said that something was his own fault?

    The best solution is for schools to have their own busses and hire their own drivers and have bus monitors on each run or atleast for the younger grades as some schools have already. This can help for more safety and accountability for both the students and driver.

    If tuition goes up because of that then we’ll have another outcry but until then…

  24. I know this has nothing to do with the discussion but when I saw the comment requesting that the picture be taken down I was taken aback. It reminds me of a sentiment I hear so often that people don’t want to hear bad stories or see images & videos of sick children, and I wonder why. I understand if people choose not to read sad or scary novels or watch sad fictional movies. But to not be able to look or absorb a bit of someone else’s real pain seems insensitive to me. Do you mean to say, please don’t make me actually feel what you’re going through- my day was so sweet until I saw this and now I’m grimacing, ugh!?

  25. I’m a bus driver for a Lakewood school bus company. First off it is the parent’s responsibility to be at the stop at provides time. Most schools demand that the child is just let off. If you cared enough bout your child then you should be there. Secondly. These children do not listen they run around it doesn’t help if you go to the school or if you pull over they do what they want the yell racial slurs and throw things out the window. It is the parents responsibility to teach their kid respect. And it’s absolutely right if your child can’t behave the best and safest strategy is not to let the kid ride the bus. So my question is why weren’t you there? What was so important that you couldn’t pick up your own son? It’s your job. You want everything going your way. Well teach your son to sit down and then get up and pick him up. Plain and simple

  26. And ps
    Yes there are “bad” bus drivers there’s bad everything. But the parents also share the blame I had a student throw a water bottle at me while I’m driving. You parents never want to take accountability you feel it’s not your fault it’s someone else’s. If you pull cameras you will see exactly that. And ofc the kids are going to say drivers drive terribly they know that will get them in trouble so they lie. I have never really seen a school bus driver do anything different than what normal LAKEWOOD traffic does. Not all good but not terribly bad. Everyone is always trying to sue someone and think they’re all great but it’s not bus drivers can only deal with the cards they get. These schools and parents teach nothing about good behavior. I once saw a student climb out a second story window onto the front awning. And the Rabi is standing there watching. It’s no problem to them but yet when a bus driver has to short stop oh no end of the world.

  27. Last year my child fell while the bus driver was puliing out of the stop. He never gave time to sit down before pulling away. Yes, She fell and fractured a foot requiring a boot for a month. Hashem Yishmor. We felt there was no one to talk to. We have pleasant and safer drivers this year Thank G-d.

  28. whoever has children in school will have had both wonderful drivers and some very dangerous ones too. We have to find a way to make it mandatory to have bus monitors. It would be nice to dream that mothers can tell their kids to sit nicely on the bus, and after 8 hours cooped up in school, they would listen like angels. Its not realistic. I’m sure most mothers tell their kids to sit. Its also unrealistic to expect a bus driver to drive safely through our crazy crowded streets AND manage a busload of kids at the same time. What happens when a teacher turns his back to the class..? the bus driver has to “control the kids” with his back to them at all times. Besides for missed stops and injuries, which were mentioned, there is often fighting and bullying going on on busses. I know several kids who are petrified to ride the bus. We expect our schools to provide supervision any time a group of children are together- before and after class, recess, etc. Busses should be no different.

  29. Gene,
    You are correct, lakewood drivers are terrible. But as a bus driver, you, therefore, have that much more of a responsibility to go the extra mile and drive extra safe. And you are correct, children need to be taught safety and respect as well. It is never okay for a child to treat a bus driver disrespectfully. As someone who is quite close to the situation, I can verify that the parents were in fact waiting on time in the correct spot for their child but the bus never showed. And both the parents and the school tried contacting the bus company many times but they were unreachable. When the bus company finally did answer, their response was terrible. They took no responsibility for the situation and made it quite clear through their actions such as blackmail (there are actually emails to prove this) that they would take no accountability and do not plan on doing so for the future. This actually was a situation where they could have easily brought a law suit. They probably should have contacted the police as well.
    I dont think anyone is saying that all bus drivers are “bad” but we have a serious issue that needs to be addressed. And I believe the blame falls more on the companies for not taking it seriously and really implementing safety precautions than the drivers. Although that is not to say that the drivers do need to be more careful as well.

  30. It is both the bus driver, the school and the bus company’s responsibility to ensure the safety of all students. Any injury arising due to their negligence is completely their fault regardless of whether the child was properly seated as it is their responsibility to have bus monitors and other precautions to make sure that the students are properly seated. This boy’s parents should sue all of the parties and maybe this will serve as a deterrent. It is about time that the schools and bus companies realize that the lives of their students are paramount and that they will pay for their carelessness.

  31. When my wife got hit slightly by the back swing of a bus I contacted the owner of one of the bus companies in Lakewood. Instead of taking responsibility he quickly blamed my wife and I for the accident. To be very clear my wife was fully stopped and waiting because the bus came barreling down the block so it was the bus drivers fault and the owner was told that. I feel like it is a helpless situation.

  32. This is horrifying.

    Do any of us even bother to take notice to the Children standing up in their seats or hanging their head out the window…?

    his has been going on for years and it seems as if there is no enforcement of safety on their behalf.

  33. More than 30 comments and not one of you got it right!
    Open up the New Jersey Statutes and look at Title 39 3b-11.
    #1. Every child on the bus must be WEARING HIS/HER SEATBELT. Not just “sitting”. 99% of injuries and all other trouble on the bus are prevented by strictly enforcing THE LAW.
    It’s very simple to enforce seatbelts school-wide: the driver points out to the principal any child who stands, and the principal suspends the child from the bus because the child WASN’T WEARING A SEATBELT. (Twice a year MVC inspectors make sure there are seatbelts for every child on each bus, and every driver and company would gladly cooperate with any school that says it’s interested in enforcing seatbelts – guaranteed!)
    #2. The driver and the company are EXPLICITLY EXEMPTED from liability for injuries to children who are not wearing their seatbelts. All assertions that the drivers or the companies should be sued are woefully ill-informed. Besides, the proper forum for Yidden to seek justice is in Beis Din, not secular court. And money won in lawsuits that would not be awarded in Beis Din is gezel mid’oraysa.

  34. We got petch if we didnt behave. & YES , the old fashioned way !! On our behinds .we didnt sit comfy for a bit .bit, we learnt right from wrong. Wasnt it so much better???

  35. I’m sorry to that there are times I’m behind a Lakewood school bus and I see children standing in the back of the bus. These are young children. This is very dangerous. Next time I see this I will report it and take down the license plate & bus number. This is not acceptable and harmful to the children. Are they standing because there are no seats available?

  36. “We have to find a way to have mandatory bus monitors” I. The city where I live, we don’t have public busing and we pay for it ourselves. We don’t have mandatory bus monitors, each parent pays a monitor fee per child at the beginning of the year. The entitlement here is mind blowing. If you feel strongly enough about this happening for the safety of your children, put your money where your mouth is.

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