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EDITORIAL: Everyday habits are easier to keep

Attentive driving and following all precautions behind the wheel should never take a vacation.

Yet we still need to underscore the importance of being extra careful as students head back to classes and school buses get on the road.

It’s hard to fathom how any driver could forget the rule of stopping for buses with lights flashing red. Two months of not seeing them should not be grounds for memory lapse. But the unfortunate truth here is that some of those behind the wheel are just habitually inattentive, or they’re in such a hurry they think they can justify that last-second deke around the bus, red lights flashing, stopped to pick up children.

It’s a problem that continues sporadically, despite the reminders, the warnings, the potential danger to lives and the legal consequences if someone violating this traffic rule is caught and convicted.

With the lights – also a flip-out arm to indicate traffic must stop – a driver couldn’t possibly fail to notice. That is, unless, he or she happens to be using a cellphone, or applying makeup or something – serious enough instances of inattentiveness to the job before you add in the risk posed to young lives.

We’ve seen some movement from school boards attempting to counter this continuing offence with the addition of cameras on board to help the bus driver identify offending motorists and their vehicles. The equipment costs in the thousands of dollars, however, so making it a standard feature on every bus isn’t within the means of our school boards.

We hear of some parents, particularly of younger children, or perhaps those on the autism spectrum or with an attention disorder, who endure constant anxiety sending the kids off to school. In many cases parents, when possible, accompany their children, especially younger ones, for the first while to ensure they are catching on to the routine, learning all the precautions they need to as pedestrians and bus riders. But ultimately, eventually, the kids need to be able to do this on their own, with assurances that motorists are watching out for them.

Any drivers who have been guilty of such a dangerous move, of missing the signal or taking a chance because they’re in a rush really need to stop and think about the consequences. And the stiff fine would be nothing compared to the tragedy of injuring a child or taking a life.

The same clear thinking needs to be applied in school zones with their reduced speeds. Rather than second-guessing when children might be present, just treat it as an area that requires slower driving and extra caution day-in, day-out, year-round. Then there’s no more having to get accustomed to it again each September.

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