Wednesday, May 10, 2006

School Transportation

Here's something that the US really do get right.

In the UK there is no school transportation (at least, there wasn't when I was a kid and where I came from). I either had to walk, get a lift or use public transport. Most kids I knew either walked or used a bus. This of course carries with it numerous risks, including getting hit by, well, a bus, getting mugged kidnapped, killed or worse.

Of course, it's impossible to completely remove these risks, but here they try really hard to reduce them as much as they can.

You'll have seen the yellow school buses in moves: they have fleets of them in every town. But they're actually more clever than simply providing a dedicated bus service for kids. They also protect kids getting onto or off the bus from other cars too.

When happens is, when the bus stops to pick up or drop off, this little Stop sign pops out of the left side of the bus and lights flash at the front and back. Cars travelling in either direction on the road are required by law to stop until the sign is taken back. Thus, the bus in a way has an in-built lollypop lady which can be deployed anywhere. The children can cross the road in safety.

In addition to this, sections of the roads around schools are defined as 'school zones' around them. At set times of the day, the lights marking the ends of the school zones flash, indicating that the speed limit in the zone is now reduced to 20mph. The police monitor this carefully, and so this is one place where having a cruise control is very useful: it's difficult to maintain a speed of only 20mph manually. It is however very easy to stop quickly at this speed, which is of course the point.

Of course, this doesn't stop it being annoying to drivers, but child safety is surely more important?


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