The streets of Lakewood are once again teeming with the usual traffic, with hundreds of school buses dominating the roads,transporting our precious children to school. Nearly every intersection in town is host to scores of children waiting to begin another beautiful day of education and enrichment.
Waiting at the corner and on the roads as well, is the scary possibility of danger.
As parents, we send our children off each morning with a prayer and a wave, hoping and praying that they be happy, successful and safe today. With the mindboggling growth and birthrate that Lakewood experiences, the reality is that our roads are home to disproportionate amount of cars, buses and children, a potent mix ripe for disaster without the proper precautions taken.
Please keep our most precious assets, our children, safe by following safety rules in and around the buses and on the roads.
The following are some tips provided by the Lakewood Police Department and the Lakewood Civilian Safety Watch to make sure that your back-to-school is a safe one.
1. As a parent, make sure you know the name and number of your child’s bus company, so that if your child ch”v does not arrive home, you know who to call.
2. In the eventuality that your child does not come home, call the school first to find out if she is still there. Many schools have a busing hotline that will inform you of delays. If she is not in school and the bus should have arrived already, call the bus company to make sure she wasn’t accidentally left on the bus. If you still can’t find her, call the authorities.
3. Do not ask your bus driver to make special stops for you. It is illegal and can be dangerous. If you are not satisfied with your bus stop and would like to request one closer to home, take that request directly to the Board of Educations’ transportation department.
4. Children should wait in groups at the bus stop. If your child is alone at the stop, make sure he or she is supervised at all times, no matter how old the child is.
5. Even in groups, there should be an adult at every bus stop. Even pre-teens should have at least one adult supervising the bus stop, to ward off unsavory visitors who may prey on children standing alone on a corner.
6. In the winter months, make sure your child has a reflector and appropriate supervision if he will be walking home and crossing streets in the dark.
7. Impress upon your children the importance of school bus safety. Even when you are not there supervising, they must stay safe and make a Kiddush Hashem by sitting respectfully on the bus, keeping their head and limbs inside the bus and following the rules and directions of the school bus driver.
8. Teach your children how to properly cross the street in front of the bus, circumventing the danger zone and making sure the driver sees them as they cross.
9. When children are waiting for the bus, they at times step off the curb to check if their bus is in sight. This is extremely dangerous and can potentially result in a child getting hit by an approaching car, ch”v. In the same vein, children should not walk into the street to board the bus until the bus has make a complete stop, with its stop sign out, and they have ascertained that it is their bus.
10. If your child comes home from school with tales of inappropriate behavior on the part of the bus driver, contact the necessary authorities immediately. The best course of action would be to call the bus company and the Board of Education to report the offense.
11. Signs should be placed in the window of each bus with the name of the school and run clearly displayed to eliminate the danger of children running into the street when they think it is their bus, and then returning to the sidewalk when they realize they were wrong. While some bus companies and schools are careful to do this, it has not been implemented across the board, which has led to some scary near-misses in recent days.
12. This is for every driver in Lakewood, whether or not you have children in the school system, and it cannot be stressed enough: DRIVE CAREFULLY. There is absolutely no excuse for passing buses with their stop signs out or ripping past them while they are preparing to stop, so that you won’t get stuck behind them. Of course you are in a rush and it takes a long time to get to your destination, especially during peak hours, but that is no excuse for putting lives on the line! When you drive irresponsibly you are posing a tremendous danger to your own family, friends and children. While you may feel in control as you zip around cars and buses and through traffic at high speed, so many things can happen beyond your control that can result in a tragic loss of life. When you are the cause of a horrific accident, suddenly your destinations becomes a whole lot less important.
If you are a bus driver, especially, drive safely and carefully. You are carrying precious cargo! There are few more frightening sights for parents to witness than a bus driver speeding recklessly, knowing that it could be their child on the bus.
As our children embark on a brand new journey of education and growth, let us do our part to keep them safe and to make this town a pleasant place to drive through.