ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Drivers need refresher on laws, etiquette

I started this day like any other, with fresh, hot coffee in a large mug, ready to make a quick round of my social media hangouts before getting down to serious work. On Facebook, I shared a public service video reminding friends and followers th...

I started this day like any other, with fresh, hot coffee in a large mug, ready to make a quick round of my social media hangouts before getting down to serious work.

On Facebook, I shared a public service video reminding friends and followers that, with school back in full swing, school buses are on the roads and drivers should exercise caution.

I didn't need the numerous examples in the video showing cars speeding past buses, nearly hitting children disembarking and crossing the road, to know the real danger because I lived it when I was 14 years old. So when I shared the public service announcement, I added a friendly comment. "Watch out for the kids; they are tiny and break easily."

Sadly, I can't say that the typical negative responses surprised me.

"Parent's should teach their children to look both ways."

ADVERTISEMENT

"Kids should be paying attention."

Is it really necessary to remind people that these are children we're talking about? Their brains aren't fully developed yet, even in their teens. They get distracted. They're talking and laughing, and horsing around. That's what kids do. That's what kids have always done. And yes, they often have their eyes glued to cell phones and other handheld devices now (oh the wickedness of it all). The fact is kids make mistakes; they don't deserve to be crippled or killed because of it.

Every driver who passed a written test knows the law; when a school bus stops with lights flashing and the stop-arm extended, drivers in all directions must come to a complete stop. The law exists to protect children precisely because they aren't always thinking about protecting themselves. And because the law exists, children naturally have the expectation of safety when they are crossing lanes of traffic. Otherwise, it's an awful lot like baiting.

When I was hit, I wasn't doing a single thing wrong. It was the last day of school before Christmas break and we'd been let out a bit early. The regular crossing guard was not there to marshal the kids safely from one curb to the next. A bus driver waved me across the street at a main intersection. I wasn't alone; there were numerous children, a few of them with adults, waiting to cross the street at the same time. He signaled us all to go, and kept waving - I know because I stopped when I reached the curb and looked up to the driver behind the windshield.

Just as I was about to step past the big yellow bus, I saw the woman in front of me clutch the hand of her youngster and dash forward. I was walking quickly, but my survival instinct was quicker. I didn't turn to see what might be coming at me, but instead turned away from the direction of the oncoming lane, taking a step backwards. The speeding car clipped me, spun me around and knocked me to the pavement.

Luckily, my backwards trajectory sent me rolling down the street at an angle away from the car instead of in front of it, where I would have been a speed bump beneath the tires. The next thing I knew, I was in an ambulance on the way to the emergency room.

My injuries were not life threatening - no broken bones but massive contusions from the impact with the car - and the pavement. I also suffered a concussion and developed a blood clot in my thigh. Christmas break was spent recovering.

I thought about all of this as I watched the comments mounting, one after another, finding fault with everybody but the drivers who were endangering children.

ADVERTISEMENT

Here's an idea. If you are approaching a school bus that has stopped, even if the lights aren't flashing and the stop-arm isn't extended, assume there are children nearby not paying attention to adult drivers who ought to behave better. And when both cautionary signals are in force - obey the law.

While we're on the subject, pull over and stop for emergency vehicles with lights and sirens, yield to pedestrians in crosswalks (heck, go for the extra and yield to them when they aren't in the crosswalk), and get off your dang phone!

Judith Liebaert was raised in Superior and now lives in rural Douglas County. She blogs on-line as the Mad Goddess™. Send your comments or story ideas to judith_ann@madgoddess.com .

What To Read Next