Protect our children: MOCO bus stop reform

Brigitte Kaba

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The recent tragic bus crashes have forced MoCo to pass reforms attempting to ensure safety at bus stops all across the county.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The recent tragic bus crashes have forced MoCo to pass reforms attempting to ensure safety at bus stops all across the county.

Two back-to-back accidents involving school buses and students have caused parents to advocate for bus stops to be in safer locations, which in turn inclined Montgomery County councilmembers to discuss safety measures.

The unthinkable tragedies in Montgomery County have left the community shaken. On Dec. 12, 2019, a nine-year-old Bradley Elementary student was fatally struck by her own bus driver. Just a day later, a WJ senior Eyal Haddad was hit by a Jeep around 7:15 a.m. crossing an intersection to his bus stop. Haddad is still recovering in the ICU.
“I have a 17-year-old myself who catches the bus one stop up [of Hadad’s bus stop]. It’s really concerning and very emotional,” Amy Ritualo, a Bethesda resident said.

Photo Courtesy of: Wikipedia Commons
Area residents are not afraid to voice concerns for young lives. Issues such as large bus sizes, inconvenient locations and the negligence of drivers are all root causes that are yet to be fixed.

WJ junior Nicole Oviedo-Garcia worries for herself and others.
“It’s really scary and even more so for parents. We always assume we are safe while on the roads but in reality these types of occurrences are mostly unpreventable. I assume this area is usually safe but I guess that’s not the case,” Oviedo-Garcia said.

The greatest advocacy for safer roads has come from concerned adults.

“Parents are afraid their kids are going to get hit,” Natali Fani-Gonzalez, the county’s Planning Board Vice Chair said in an interview with the WTOP.

The Montgomery County School System plans on creating a panel consisting of transportation experts and residents to review school transportation safety. The panel would analyze stop locations as well as establish safety protocols for bus riders. Additionally, a “Vision Zero” plan has been implemented. The plan intends on preventing fatal traffic incidents by 2030 through new traffic laws.

Councilman Evan Glass and other county leaders believe that spreading awareness and practicing mindfulness while driving is as important as creating better policies.
“We need drivers to slow down and keep their eyes on the road. We need to look up from our phones, lower or turn off the volume on our earbuds and be aware of our surroundings,” Glass said.