Our view: There is no excuse for not stopping for school transportation

Buses to school are about 40 feet long and 10 feet high. They are painted bright yellow, and when they stop red lights flash, and in some cases a long arm is pulled out and blocks the road.

They are not delicate. They do not miss easily.

However, drivers pass them by on a regular basis, putting school students at risk. If people do not recover, it’s only a matter of time before the tragedy occurs.

It almost just happened. Earlier this month an unlawful driver of a school bus stopped on a shoulder unpaved in a standby, flying near the door just as a young girl was getting ready to leave. A 19-year-old from Gurham was charged.

A few days later, a 53-year-old from Mount Desert Island was charged with the same crime after passing a bus that stopped that dropped off students.

It’s not all. Gorham’s school department, which is now working to place cameras on all school buses to document illegal crossings, reports more than 50 cases in this school year alone.

Last fall, just as students were returning to school en masse after learning from home during most of the plague, Westbrook bus drivers reported being transported like never before, with 10 occurring over a two-week period.

“Their phone rings, or they drink their cup of coffee, brush their hair. I saw everything,” one Westbrook bus driver told WGME. “They even look straight ahead and they’re just like the madness they go through.”

They do not imagine things. After the epidemic break, buses full of students returned to roads that had meanwhile become more dangerous. Even when traffic dropped a lot when people stayed at home, road accidents and deaths climbed, both in Maine and across the country.

The reason, authorities say, is an increase in dangerous, even anti-social behavior, a disturbing but humane response to the pressure, isolation and uncertainty of the epidemic.

Not only distracted driving up, but also reckless and faulty driving, all of which have been linked to cause motor vehicle accidents to go up. They also cause a further increase in the number of fatalities of pedestrians and cyclists.

Could a tragedy involving students and a school bus be far behind?

Schools, and law enforcement, are not waiting. Gorham will not be the last district to place cameras on buses, and in some areas police say they are monitoring buses to make sure other drivers pay attention.

If not, and if they are caught, they will initiate, and subject to a $ 250 fine in the first offense, a conditional license in the second.

This should be enough to remind drivers to stay in place when a bus stops in front of them, as well as the possibility that crossing the bus endangers young children, all to save a few seconds.

Just take the look of a big yellow bus with the flashing red lights as a stop sign, and give the kids a few moments to get to a safe place.


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