Friday afternoon's bus trip returning the kids from school to home was one of the toughest I've had to date.
I wonder what it's going to take to get people to wake up, hang up, stop texting and take notice of the 8 large red flashing lights and 2 stop arms staring them in the face to realize that they all mean STOP!!!
Let's recap Friday afternoon.
The high school route was fairly event free. Just the usual traffic through the IU campus that leaves my head spinning from looking right, left, front and back and then all around trying to ensure my kids are safe as they get off the bus.
Then came the elementary route. The kids were wound up and we had another quick discussion about the importance of them staying seated. They always listen and always mean to follow the rules and this day -- they were doing great.
My first 3 stops are group stops where over 20 kids get on and off daily. The very first stop had me blowing my horn to get the attention of the on coming vehicle who had no intention of stopping.
Let me interject here --- in case you've never really paid attention to a school bus ---- quite a bit before I am going to make a stop I turn on 4 very large amber colored flashing lights --- warning everyone around (front and back) that I am going to be coming to a stop. I then watch and try as best as I can to get traffic through and past me as to not throw up the stop arms right in the middle of traffic.
As I am coming to a stop -- about 20 feet before time to open the door -- I turn on the 8 flashing red lights and the 2 large stop arms with even more red flashing lights. This does not open the door -- just yet. As I am coming to a stop I am watching the traffic and making certain everyone has come to a complete stop before I do open the door.
When I feel it's safe (and the kids have been trained on this procedure) I open the door and the kids get off the bus -- many running into the welcoming arms of their parents.
On my 2nd stop I am at a T intersection preparing to turn right after the kids are off the bus and across the street. I had been stopped for over 15 seconds when -- from my right side and having to make a left turn in front of the bus!!!!! --- a truck runs right through my lights and stop arms!!!! He nearly wipes out a group of parents and kids crossing the street! My side window is open (it's over 90 degrees) and I immediately start screaming at him! Yes, I was screaming at him! "What in the world are you doing?" was only the beginning! His response? "Hey lady, I looked both ways!"
That comment sent me the rest of the way over the edge and I let him have it even louder! I told him to "just sit there while I get your license plate number so I can report you!" I got the number while he once again told me he had looked both ways and after making sure that the kids and parents had seen what happened and knew THIS is why we are oh so careful at bus stops --- I radioed in his plate number with what had just happened.
By that time my hands were literally shaking as I couldn't stop thinking about "what if?"
The very next stop --- again I am stopped and I see the oncoming car with no intention of stopping! I again start blowing my horn while waving my left arm out the window -- trying to get the driver's attention. He also stopped about half way through my stop arms and this time I yelled (yes, yelled) at him to "back it up buddy!" as the kids and parents couldn't even cross the street to home! He gave me quite the deadly look and I could not have cared less!
And if that wasn't enough --- my next stop is for one little boy --- right on the IU campus again -- and I am again watching the beat up red car coming down the street --- with the driver texting!!!!! --- and ready to speed right through my stop arms.
So . . . the horn blows and my arm waves and half way through he stops! He has no room to back up as traffic has stopped behind him so he just has to sit there --- and continued to text!!!!!
All of these drivers got their plate numbers radioed into our administration department, complete with vehicle and driver descriptions. Which makes me have to do one more thing in watching out for the safety of these precious little ones! I have kept pen and paper right next to me -- for good reason -- and the kids in the bus are also good at turning and trying to get the license numbers!
Each of these "opportunities" for educating the kids (and parents waiting on the curbs) are indeed used to educate. We have "the talk" inside the bus and I try to also talk with the parents. All of which takes more and more time and the kids get home much later than the time they are scheduled for --- but --- the are getting home ALIVE!!!!
I wonder what it's going to take! Which child is going to have to give their life? And which bus driver will be crucified for the incident? And which parent is going to have to watch the whole scenario -- unable to do anything?
We ALL know that red lights mean STOP!!!!! No matter what city, state or country we are from, no matter what language we speak -- or don't speak!
STOP means STOP!
I would beg of you to please share this message with literally everyone you know! Some child's life depends on it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Until next time . . . if YOU stop --- those behind you will also stop! Thank you!
And Lord --- thank You for protecting my precious little cargo! Susan