When she retired in June after 20 years as a school bus driver in Moffat County, Shawn Linsacum said bus drivers endure many annoyances, including sick children and fighting. But what irritated her most, she said, was adults -- drivers who aren't careful around a bus.
"I know where road rage comes from," Linsacum said. "I want to chase them down and say 'What do you think I have in here? They're not a bunch of potato chips!'"
When is getting anywhere on time ever more important than the lives and safety of children?
Earlier this month, Moffat County bus drivers appealed to residents to be safer drivers. Their plea followed an incident in which a resident tried to make a left turn from the wrong lane and sideswiped a school bus carrying 35 children.
No one was injured. But is that a risk anyone is willing to take?
Can you imagine telling the parents of a seriously injured child that you passed a school bus because you were running late for work or because you weren't paying attention?
Shirley Cromer, who has been a bus driver for two years, said she has witnessed several instances in which drivers didn't appear to see the big, yellow bus or its flashing lights.
"People just don't care," she said.
Even emergency responders use caution as they're weaving in and out of traffic in their attempts to get to a scene quickly. They're trained -- even in a life or death situation -- to avoid putting others at risk in their attempt to get to the scene.
Do other drivers have more urgent reasons for getting somewhere?
School District Transportation Department Sup--ervisor Jim Baptist said there are generally fewer than two school-bus related accidents a year.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 23 school-age children die in transportation-related crashes each year -- six while inside a school bus and 17 while getting to or leaving a school bus.
That's too many. Period.
Safety is about priorities. And we think there's no higher priority than making sure the children in our community are safe. That means at home, at the park, in school and on the school bus.
Since 1994, 182 school-age pedestrians have died in school transportation-related crashes, according to the National Safety Council. Nearly 67 percent of those children were killed by school buses, 5 percent by vehicles functioning as school buses and 31 percent by other vehicles involved in the crashes.
Nearly one-half of all school-age pedestrians killed in school transportation-related crashes were between ages 5 and 7.
There's no excuse.
Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to let children on or off. Drivers should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped and that children are getting on or off. Drivers must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
It's the law. Ignoring it not only puts the driver at risk of prosecution, but it also puts lives at risk.