With students in the Twin Counties enjoying their Thanksgiving recess, it’s a good time to look at school bus safety in terms of drivers who ignore the retractable stop signs and flashing lights and pass stopped school buses.
Annette Perry of Hudson has helped keep kids safe on her block of Columbia and Front streets for seven years, volunteering to put them on the bus and get them off safely.
Not every school district has an Annette Perry, but there are laws about stopped school buses and they should be obeyed. Fortunately, accidents involving careless motorists and stopped school buses are few and far between in this area.
The Twin Counties have been lucky. Nationwide, it is a somewhat different story.
From 2007 to 2016 there were 320,874 fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes. Of those crashes, 1,147, or less than one-half of 1 percent, were classified as school-transportation-related, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Between 2007 and 2016, 1,282 people were killed in school-transportation-related crashes — an average of 128 fatalities per year. Occupants of school transportation vehicles accounted for 9 percent of the fatalities, and non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.) accounted for 20 percent of the fatalities.
From 2007 to 2016, 98 school-age pedestrians (18 and younger) have died in school-transportation-related crashes. Thirty-eight percent were struck by passenger cars, light trucks and vans, large trucks, motorcycles, etc. Sixty percent were struck by school buses and 2 percent by vehicles functioning as school buses.
We can certainly agree as a community that what matters most is the safety of our children. Annette Perry does what she can to preserve that safety. Maybe she can extend the understanding to motorists that passing a stopped school bus can have tragic consequences. As Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore said, just one death is too many. As Catskill Police Chief Dave Darling said simply, “You have to be careful out there.”