Letters for 08-28-2014

School Bus Safety Is A Must
We hardly noticed they were gone, but here they are, back on the road.
Big yellow school buses are up and down every street, highway, parish road and gravel road. And they’re carrying some very precious cargo.
In Union Parish, the buses not only transport students to the three schools run by the Union Parish School System, but also for students of D’Arbonne Woods Charter School, Downsville Charter School and Union Christian Academy.
The system got at least a temporary reprieve from a new state law that requires door-side pick up of every student. The new law prohibits students from boarding buses when their stop is on the driver’s side of the highway. That would translate into many extra miles – and much greater expense – for buses to pick up all students living on one side of the road and then having to come back down the same road to pick up additional students.
It is likely that Sheriff Dusty Gates has reminded deputies to be especially mindful of drivers who disobey traffic laws when following or meeting a school bus.
It would also serve well for other motorists to be vigilant and report anyone who fails to heed state law that requires that all traffic stop for students to board on any roadway that isn’t divided. In areas along U.S. 167 in Bernice and Junction City, motorists MUST stop along undivided four lane sections of the highway. Along Louisiana highways 2, 15 and 33 – and the multitude of two-lane state and parish roads that run off each – drivers traveling in either direction MUST stop when the buses turn on their flashers to board students.
Rural routes in the parish can be dangerous for school buses, too. It’s possible for rural roads to have sharp curves, steep hills and uneven or broken ground.
When driving anywhere — particularly on rural routes — be aware that at any moment (but especially in the morning before 8 a.m. and the afternoon after 3 p.m.) a school bus may be stopped ahead.
Parents too, need to take an active role in ensuring their child understands the rules of riding on a school bus and how important following these rules are to the safety of themselves and others. Children never need to get out of their seat for any reason while the bus is in motion. They also never need to hang their head or arms out of a window and they should not in any way cause a distraction for the driver.
Too often, there have been instances of accidents involving school buses because the proper precautions were not taken or drivers simply were not paying attention. Let’s not add to those statistics. Let’s be school bus-safe in Union Parish.