Reader-submitted: Proposed Changes for Bus Drivers Dropping off Children

bus_lkwd_tlsDear TLS: When I was a young girl, I watched my best friend get off a bus and run directly into oncoming traffic. Thrown a distance and suffering a broken skull along with other injuries, her survival hung in balance. B’chasdei hashem, she survived, and today she is a mother with children of her own.

Today, I am a mother too. And on most days, when my children get off their school bus, whether on a typical afternoon or whether in the dark or in the rain, snow or ice, I am not there to watch.

But every once in a while I am there, and as I watch them get off their buses and run blindly across the street (oblivious of my repeated warnings to stop and make sure opposing traffic has come to a complete stop), something inside of me flinches and I instinctively shut my eyes in fear. On other occasions, I am the oncoming traffic – I am behind the wheel of my car when I watch other’s children fly into the street without a glance in my direction, and before my car have come to a complete stop. I may (and do) have every intention of stopping, but those children cannot know what my intentions are.

When I read yesterday that a child was hit by an oncoming car getting off a school bus, my worst memories came back to haunt me once more.

I wonder if a very simple rule can help protect our children and wanted feedback regarding effectiveness and how we can implement this safety rule. As a girl, I had a bus driver who simply did not open his doors to allow the children to get off the bus until opposing traffic came to a complete stop. I have more than one clear childhood memory of watching in safety aboard the bus as a car whizzed by our bus’s outstretched stop sign. We watched in safety because the door of the bus remained closed. In Lakewood I often see children in middle of the road before oncoming traffic even began to slow down. Were a driver to fail to break, the result would be a tragedy.

Currently, the law imposes the burden of the child’s safety on other drivers on the road. What if we could shift some of that responsibility to our bus drivers? What if we could partner with them to help us keep our kids safe? I feel like this can be a very effective safety measure but I have no practical experience regarding how we could get this done.

I am looking for practical advice from both your readership and TLS. Perhaps among your readership you have those running bus companies, bus drivers who can give me their perspective, politicians, or lawyers who understand the ins and outs of getting a new law passed. Perhaps TLS has contacts who they can ask these questions:

1. Is this practical? Would it be effective?

2. How can we approach our bus companies to encourage their educating their bus drivers regarding such a policy?

3. Can we hope such a policy would be signed into law?

Please let’s discuss and act before it is too late for a child.

Thank you for letting my voice be heard

Mrs. C.F.

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  1. As someone who drove a school bus for about seven years in Lakewood. I used to wait till the cars stopped before letting the children off. However there were times when the street was completely empty or the cars were a few blocks away. In these cases you cant wait forever. I would tell the children to make sure it comes to a complete stop before crossing. However unfortunately I still had a few close calls.

    Its true that bus drivers are on a tight schedule and SOME drive wild/ aggressive and need to be more conscious of the safety of there passenger’s.

    However most drivers that passed my bus were unintentional of course. But intentionally distracted by cell phones or just rushing with out thinking about others . I say this as a frum bus driver in Lakewood We need to have DERECH ERETZ on roads and be courteous with each other.

  2. I have seen several times in brooklyn where a bus driver cuts across the entire intersection at an angle to make his presence more obvious, and clearly so that no oncoming car can pass… i thought that is the smartest way to do it…

  3. The best thing would be if kids didn’t have to cross over the street, but, I guess it may be impossible or impractical to set up bus routes like that.

  4. I feel that people would be a lot more compliant in stopping for flashing buses if they are used responsibly:
    1. Do not keep the lights flashing while talking to a parent.
    2. Do not make frequent stops. If a bus will stop to let off students at individual houses, drivers will get very frustrated and “take a chance” to pass the bus. Parents have to cooperate with this by not asking the bus driver to make a stop anywhere other than the official bus stop.
    3. Flash the lights only when a child has to cross the street and not when his house is on the same side of the street on which he is being let off.
    4. The child should be ready to get off the bus as soon as the bus comes to a complete stop. He should not start looking for his backpack, shoes, or whatever when the bus stops, thereby prolonging the amount of time the lights will be flashing.
    5. Once the child is off the bus and sees that no cares are coming, he should cross the street as quickly as is safely possible so as not to prolong the amount of time the lights will be flashing. He should not spend time waving good-by to his friends.
    It takes a joint effort to make this work.

  5. And the 5 points of rationale of “my two cents” are the perfect reason of why we need to put something in place that is on the side and protection of children who cross the street when “my two cents” drives by.

    Thank you for enlightening us.

    And get off your cellphone, and start concentrating on your driving and pay attention to others on the road, and stop blaming children for your carelessness.

  6. To “my two cents” I agree with most of what you said. I do have a problem with your 3rd idea. As the parent of a special needs child, who gets a house stop and does not need to cross the street, I can’t tell you how many close calls we had because she got away from me and tried to run in the street. If not for those lights I shudder to think what might have happened. We can’t make rules for some of the time or for certain kinds of buses. The drivers often drive multiple routes and need a concrete set of rules to follow to help keep our children safe.

  7. How about all cars slow down, and stop? Remind yourself when you see a bus. When a train is blocking the road, you sit and sit. Why would a bus be different.

  8. #7, I was just trying to point out that if attempts that lower the frustration level of drivers, then they will be more willing to comply with the flashing signs and will not try to “beat the lights”. I always stop for flashing school bus lights, but I can see how some people can get upset with it. No solution will work if you don’t have some give from both sides.
    #8, I see your point; I was not aware of that.
    #9 ,I am sure that people are not too happy about waiting for a train, either, But when a train is blocking the road, you can’t go around it. Also, there is only one train; once it passes, you are free to go. There are many, many buses that make many, many stops quite close together, so you are not stopping just one time.

  9. I think the busea should have video camera to record when the buses stop- were their lights on– and video outside the bus if people stop.
    I think if the police are in it on this- they can get people who pass the bus and give them tickets-
    this will also be an incentive for bus drivers to drive safer (by having their drive recorded as well)

  10. I’ve seen many times that the yellow lights are on for two or three blocks so we in the cars aren’t sure when the bus is planning to stop..therefore we slow down and stop but the bus passes right by. The bus continue to drive and then bam!it stops and switches to red. I always thought flashing yellow means it’s going to switch to red but apparently flashing yellow means sometime in the next mile it’s going to stop…perhaps there should be a clearer time frame …yellow should be like the traffic lights yellow….a warning that reds coming now! Maybe like 2 or 3 houses before the stop.

  11. While in the past some of my children have had the most wonderful drivers that truly cared about our children, right now I do not see my girls’ bus driver stopping them from getting off till traffic stops. She is literally the bus driver from hell! She curses them and tells them to get out now! She yells at them and makes them cry. But of course that’s my girls’ perspective…..

  12. I think the stop signs on the buses should have a camera to take a picture of license plates of cars that go through it when it is open like they do if you go thru a toll booth

  13. i have seen people speed up to pass the Yellow lights because they do not want to wait. I have also seen them reading, talking on the cell phone, eating shall we go on. people these are your Kids Please Pay Attention I personally do not let any child off my bus until all traffic has stop, even then people still run our lights. As drivers safety is our First Concern, people need to Pay Attention.

  14. Lol, when is common sense gonna kick in. You MUST STOP at least ten (10) feet away from the school bus. ! You MUST WAIT until the red lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm has been withdrawn before moving. ! DO NOT MOVE until all the children have reached a place of safety.HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE AND STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR POOR JUDGEMENT.

  15. If buses would wait to allow the cars behind them to pass after a pickup or drop,it would lower the frustration levels of the drivers caught behind buses sometimes for 5 minutes or more

  16. On the newer buses the doors will not open until the bus is completely stop. However the bad part of this is the reds will not come on until the door starts to open. The law is the yellows should be on 300 feet before the stop, this is not doable in a city like Lakewood. Also the law is when the reds are on you should not come within 25 feet of any part of the bus.
    What 17 said is a good idea if the board and the parents didn’t want the runs to be done faster.

  17. Buses should pull into the oncoming lane while yellow lights are flashing as to block the full roadway and interfere with any moving vehicle then door opens along with red flashing lights.

  18. So I hear is “change the law “to satisfy you guy need to go faster.
    -people dnt stop for ppl in crosswalk (especially on clifton)
    -people go 0 to 60 literally to go 15 feet
    – ppl have no concept of being a defensive person at all time (which plainly mean being alert)
    -people don’t adjust there driving to accommodate poor road condition.

    But it funny when y’all see cops on the road, you guys start driving the start limit and follow every regulation.

    Next you guy are gonna request to run the red light after a certain hour dued to lack of people or cars on the road.

    How bout we look in the mirror and take blame and stop wanting to introduce blanket laws that does nothing to address ppl mind frame of driving as if god has the wheel.

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