Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stop for those flashing school bus lights

And the great weather continues. I know it’s sort of selfish thinking, but I love this weather. The greatest benefit for me is the weather will probably mean another fine day for me this morning at my senior fitness session.

I’ve read about it and heard about on the TV for a few days now, but riding around yesterday really brought into reality that schools are open or opening all around the area this week and next. School parking lots are filled with some teachers’ vehicles and some of many parents who are taking their children to school for first time orientation.

The biggest signal is the appearance of the bright yellow school buses. I’m not sure if it were coincidence or not, but in one community I spotted police cars on patrol along routes the buses were travelling. More indications of schools getting into session are the knots of children standing around at bus stops and many of those stops also had parents standing there.

Some, I suspect, were making sure their tots were getting off to school for the first time and to be sure they knew how to act on the buses. Others are making sure of the safety of their children. In either case, they are sure signs schools are either open or opening.

Drivers once again must be aware of the presence of school children getting to and from school. Somehow it takes a different kind of alert from summer care when kids seem to pay more attention to vehicles around them. School is different, though. The kids are often in packs excitedly talking about the day ahead or the one that ended. And about what they would do after then get home.

A reminder for all drivers: We are required to stop whenever a school bus is displaying those flashing lights indicating it is either loading or discharging children. There’s quite a fine for passing one. I came upon my first one of the season yesterday. It was heading toward me and as it slowed down, first the yellow lights came one. I slowed way down as I approached a safe distance. The bus stopped, the flashing yellows continued, but its doors remained closed.

A rather good distance in front of the bus, I stopped. The yellow lights changed to flashing red, the bus’s door opened, and a couple children left the bus and crossed the street in front of it. I commented to Gator Wife that demonstrated why stopping is necessary. Those kids trusted the bus driver had stopped all traffic and skipped across the street without looking either way.

When they were safe, the bus lights went off and the bus slowly moved forward. I was pleased that the driver waved honoring the care I was showing.

I don’t know how many communities, if any, have followed suit of I think it was Bangor concerning school buses. There was a story on the TV a few days ago that the drivers there have had special training in getting both the license numbers of vehicles passing those stopped buses and getting a description of the drivers. Apparently the city will have rigid enforcement. All cities and towns should have similar plans.

Now a couple of quickies: First, I’ll be glad when September 8th gets here. I sure do hope the end of the current campaign for Toyota also ends those terrible commercials that show a clawed crane lifting an old car and a new one drops out. They were kind of neat when they started, but like most commercials these days, that overkill has had a negative effect on this Toyota owner.

And finally, I sure do hope Roger Griswold, perhaps the best meteorologist formerly on Channel Six, will be happy in his new home on Channel Eight. The ratings and the apparent work life span of people working there doesn’t hint of too much longevity. I’ll miss seeing him. Like most Mainers, I rarely watch that station.


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