I am writing this to you in the hope that maybe you could, through your readers, bring attention to an ongoing safety issue that I deal with on a daily basis.
First I would like to state for the record that I have an endless respect for our law enforcement officers. They bravely protect us from all manner of crime. There is however a huge gap in this protection when it comes to traffic safety.
Three years ago I moved with my family from Bergen County N.J., to Delaware. I noticed that most of the traffic laws in the area are not enforced. Speed limits are a joke. I have done 50 in 45 mph zones only to have someone riding me on my back bumper trying to do 60! Drivers are on the roads in the dark without lights on, even in heavy fog, rain and in most hazardous conditions. Unless I’m on Route 24 or Route 1, I never see any officers patrolling on the secondary roads.
Where I came from there are local police in each town on the local streets, we have county officers that patrol the local highways, and then we have state troopers for the main highways like I-95. Here, all I see are the troopers, so basically there is no coverage on the many back roads. There are no patrols through the neighborhoods of the many developments in the area. Also up north there were at least occasional patrol cars checking the streets for suspicious behavior. Neighborhood watch can only go so far.
All this being stated, I would like to address the problem that I am writing about today. I am a school bus driver for the Cape Henlopen School District. I drive for a private contractor, but for whom is not important. I drive double runs for the high school and Love Creek Elementary. I can’t tell you how many times cars blow through my red lights while trying to safely deliver my children to their destinations each day. I average three to six each week, and that is only my bus. If you do the math and multiply this by the dozens of buses that are out there, you would have to agree we have a serious safety issue!
Like all the other traffic laws, these issues are never addressed. Another traffic law treated as a joke. I hear excuses like I did not have enough time to stop or I didn’t see the bus. The list is endless, but here is the bottom line: School bus drivers will put their yellow flashers on about 10 to 20 seconds before they put the red lights on with the stop sign. Like the many traffic lights, yellow means to prepare to stop and red means stop.
This is not negotiable for the safety of our kids, it must be followed! As for not seeing the bus, all I can say is that if you can’t see the big yellow bus with its flashers on, you should really rethink getting behind the wheel because you’re dangerous.
In just last two days (March 1 and 2) I have had three cars and the Rehoboth Beach ambulance go through my reds on Camp Arrowhead Road and Munchy Branch Road. The ambulance only stopped because as the cars ran my lights I leaned on the horn as we do to wake drivers up, and the driver slammed his brakes on half past the bus.
If we can make people think like it was their kids on that bus, maybe they would stop for the minute or two it takes to let our kids cross safely.