Saturday, October 24, 2009

Algonquin's "elephant" in the room

The media continue to report on the unfortunate accident last week, when a 7-year-old Neubert Elementary School (Algonquin, Ill.) student was run over by a schoolbus.

According to this morning's newspaper (Page 6A) "District 300 officials said the cause of the accident ... might never be determined."

Maybe it is just that nobody wants to talk about the "elephant in the room." You don't even have to have been there to know that it was either the fault of the driver or the student.

I've never been a schoolbus driver, but I have driven large motorcoaches. As a driver, you are responsible to look for anyone close enough to be in danger. You know where the blind spots are and it's your obligation to be certain that no one is in them, especially as you start forward. If someone is close by the side of the bus, you wait.

Today's paper says the boy had gotten off the bus and fell under it "in the front wheel area." Was he run over by the right front tire or the rear tires? If by the front, why did he remain so close to the front of the bus after getting off? Was he about to cross in front of the bus? Was the safety arm of the bus out or had it been retracted when the door was closed? Why didn't he step away from the bus?

Maybe D300 needs to paint yellow lines on the sidewalks in the boarding areas and order drivers not to move the buses until all students are behind lines. Check out the warning lines on the Metra platforms.

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