Traveling into work this morning, there is a noticeable difference in the scenery. It’s the first day of school for children in the Camas and Washougal school districts — those big yellow buses are everywhere and children are once again bicycling and walking to school. As we’ve all become used to our summer driving routines, the influx of pedestrian and school bus traffic can have an unexpected impact on local traffic flow and speed. It’s a change we all need to be aware of and take seriously.
The stories of accidents involving children that occur when people aren’t paying close attention are plentiful. As a elementary school child, I was a passenger on a school bus that was struck by a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. More than 30 years later, I still clearly remember the feeling of fear and confusion, the sight of vehicle parts strewn across the street, and the smell of gasoline and metal that were all part of this strange scene. In my case, no children were seriously injured. But it certainly could have gone differently.
Drivers should be cautious and slow down when traveling around schools and near bus stops. The speed limit in school zones when children are present is 20 mph. Even when school zone lights are not flashing, students may still to be in the area.
It’s so easy to get submerged in our daily routines, seemingly on autopilot as we make our way to work and other destinations. Make the effort to be extra vigilant when driving local streets during school hours.