The backpacks have been filled, the shoes have been shined — theoretically at least — and the lunch boxes are at the ready.
Beginning Monday, it’s the season of back-to-school and all it entails.
For drivers, that means children gathered at bus stops as the big yellow fleet hits the road. Traffic will start and stop, and there will be backups as the buses make their rounds getting children to and from school.
Wilton sends more than 4,000 children to school every day. Most of them wait on street corners and the sides of roads in the mornings and get off buses onto the streets in the afternoon.
Interim Police Chief Robert Crosby, on page 5A, has reminded us of some safety precautions we should follow all the time, but especially now.
This is the time to remind everyone in the family to take extra time and use extra caution when traveling Wilton’s roads. Keep your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road, and your phone in your purse or pocket. This is not the time to be distracted by anything, including children in your back seat if you are taking them to class.
Don’t forget to remind your young drivers — high school juniors or seniors who may be taking themselves to school — to be extra careful during the early morning and afternoon hours when they may have to negotiate bus-filled traffic. AAA of New England says the afternoon hours are particularly dangerous, with nearly one in four child pedestrian fatalities occurring between 3 and 7 p.m.
Never, never, never pass a stopped school bus that has its red lights flashing. Never. No place you “have to get to” is more important than the life of the child who may be crossing in front of the bus that’s stopped.
Those with school-aged children should talk to them about bus safety, and the importance of taking the rules seriously. Children should always wait for their bus driver’s OK before crossing in front of a bus. They also need to know that admonitions to stay seated and talk quietly are not meant to be a punishment, but are meant to reduce distractions for drivers who have the lives of 40 to 60 youngsters in their hands.
Especially over the next several weeks, as children, parents, and bus drivers are getting used to new routines, use an overabundance of caution. Give yourself a little more time in the mornings and evenings and take that deep breath when you get behind the wheel. It only takes seconds for a tragedy to occur and you can never get those seconds back.