Equal Bus Safety Rights for Special Needs Children
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Here in the city of Burbank, California, our bus safety measures for our special needs children community are downright neglectful and dangerous. It is appalling that our public transportation system is carelessly putting not just our children in harm's way, but also the bus drivers that transport our children to and from school.
It is common law that vehicles, in both lanes of traffic, stop for school busses letting children on and/or off the bus. This helps to ensure that the bus is not stuck by a moving vehicle and that children can safely cross the street. This is absolute necessary to keep our children safe.
However, it has recently come to the attention of parents here in Burbank, that this law does not apply to children that require assistance getting on the bus -- essentially children with special needs: physical and cognitive. Bus drivers do not have to use the stop sign while our special needs children are getting on or off the bus. This is an absolute outrage! The assistance of a bus driver helping a child to their seat and into their seat belt does not ensure their safety. Stop signs should be used every time, no exceptions. A bus driver helping a child into their seatbelt does not guarantee their safety because it does not prevent a car from crashing into the bus before the child can be properly placed in the restraints of their seat belt, catapulting both the child and the driver to the front of the bus, resulting in deadly injuries.
The danger is not just confined to when the child is on the bus, but also prior to getting on the bus. Special needs children often have disabilities that can't be seen. As a mother to two autistic children, one of which has a severe, unpredictable urge to dart into the street (and has on several occasions), the walk up to the bus can be dangerous. Without the use of a stop sign, enforcing drivers to stop their vehicle, drivers drive by the bus at unlawful speeds, often driving recklessly to swerve around the bus. The absence of a stop sign in the unfortunate event that a child with a cognitive disability and/or lack of safety awareness elopes into the street, the end result would be fatal. This scenario could be prevented if the bus's stop sign and flashing red lights were utilized 100% of the time. Not using a stop sign only encourages drivers to continue unlawfully neglecting to stop when children are getting on or off the bus.
In short, I firmly believe that special needs children deserve the exact same bus safety precautions (if not more) as neurotypical children. Your signature will help to ensure that special needs children and their bus drivers will not be discriminated when it comes to necessary, life saving bus safety laws.
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