Motorists should be attentive to buses

This week when students return to classes in Christian and Todd counties, and begin their second week of the school year in Trigg County, there are several thousand reasons for motorists to take special care on the roads. The reasons, of course, are the students traveling to and from school in buses and their parents’ cars — and for some older students, in their own vehicles.

Traffic will be busier than we’ve seen since last spring. Motorists who allow a little extra time for the morning commute, and observe reduced speed limits in school zones, will help make the roads safer.

Everyone ought to take special care near school grounds and when approaching buses that have stopped in traffic to let children on or off.

State law requires drivers to stop when approaching a bus that has stopped, with warning lights and the stop arm activated, to pick up or drop off passengers. This includes drivers on both sides of the road. The only exception is for cars approaching from the opposite direction of a bus on a highway with four or more lanes. But even when the traffic laws don’t require a motorist to stop for a bus, it is always a good idea to slow down and give bus traffic plenty of room.

Bus drivers face challenges that most of us behind the wheel have never imagined. Handling a vehicle that weighs 10 tons or more, anticipating what can go wrong on the road while also maintaining order onboard with the passengers, a school bus driver assumes a great deal of responsibility. It is not an easy job, but it can be more manageable if other motorists on the road are cooperative and patient.

Twice in the past 20 years, Christian County has experienced the loss of a child in a bus accident. In 1996, a 14-year-old boy was struck by a truck after he stepped off a bus on Princeton Road. And in 2000, a 5-year-old boy died when a bus crashed on Kentucky 117.

It is a tragedy we hope is never repeated in our community, but we know there are always risks in vehicle travel. Most accidents occur close to home. Many could be prevented if drivers avoided distractions, observed the speed limit and maintained a safe distance from other vehicles.

We hope every driver thinks about the thousands of reasons to be attentive on the roads this week. Help the bus drivers keep everyone safe by observing speed limits and watching for students getting on and off buses. They should be our top priority.

Kentucky New Era

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