Letter: School is here, Shelton drivers take notice

To the Editor:

Whether you like it or not we are at that time of year again when the big yellow buses will be picking up and dropping off students all over Shelton and other communities across the country. The first few days of school have always been filled with missed and late pickups, route changes and other mishaps that go along with our traditional after Labor Day school start just to add more mental pressure to those of us who commute to work in the early morning or in the middle of the afternoon.

So after being prompted to write this editorial by a friend who is the grandfather of a very young school child I ask everyone to slow down, be extremely careful around our school buses and schools. Remember school children, no matter their age, will sometimes dart into or across the street without warning for the anyone of a dozen reasons, they may be greeting and meeting a classmate, running to hug their parent or pet, retrieving a treasured art project for the fridge or athletic equipment they dropped or just avoiding some smelly road kill.

The NBC News this morning aired countless videos of drivers defying school bus warning lights and stop signs even in front of schools. One driver attempted to go around the right side of the bus driving onto the sidewalk to get around the bus narrowly hitting a small boy who dropped his backpack getting away. It is estimated there are almost 73,000 near misses occurring every month when drivers don’t heed simple school bus traffic laws. The addition of video cameras, security cameras, dashboard recorders to buses and cell phone photos provide proof of how reckless some drivers are.

In any case our duty as adults with driver’s licenses is to protect all children whether they walk to school, ride the bus or are dropped off by family or friends. Schools normally open in sequence. High schools between 6:45 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., intermediate schools just about 8 a.m. and grammar or elementary schools between 8:30 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. One way to avoid the bus traffic is to plan to leave earlier or plan travel routes away from schools to avoid long backups.

If you are the designated neighborhood driver or just the mom or dad who has always chauffeured your child to school, be prepared to wait and move at a snail’s pace stopping and going. Some bus routes require 10 to 20 stops in even short bus runs to schools, which can be very frustrating. Please keep your cool, radios turned down and eyes on the road and not your cell phone. Being late to wherever you are going is better than any of the other alternatives I can think of when school buses loaded with students are in operation.

And know your child’s schools particular rules about drop off time and the place(s) to drop off students and any parking regulations. School personnel should be at the curb to meet, greet and watch the students as they exit vehicles and direct them to a save place. Please give the buses the room they need to operate safely on the streets and on school property; slow down when you are near them and allow them extra room for turning.

Anthony F. Simonetti

Alderman, 1st Ward