Drive carefully – school’s in session

Published 8:53 pm Thursday, March 17, 2011

Two school bus accidents in two weeks have sent more than two dozen Suffolk children to area hospitals. Thankfully none of those children were seriously injured, although the driver of one of the other involved vehicles was flown to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital with serious injuries. The incidents should serve as a reminder of just how important it is to show a little extra care when driving during school hours.

About 35 children were aboard the school bus that crashed last week. Thursday’s accident took place as a busload of students was on its way to Driver Elementary School. Police allege that the driver of the van that crossed into the oncoming lane and struck the bus had fallen asleep at the wheel. Her two daughters suffered minor injuries and were taken to Sentara Obici Hospital, while their mother was flown to Norfolk.

Both accidents could have had tragic consequences. And neither had to have happened. The courts ultimately will decide who, if anyone, is at fault in both cases, and we pass no judgment here on any of the parties involved. But the situations should remind every driver in Suffolk just how quickly things can go wrong, just how closely they need to pay attention to what’s happening around them. Complacency and distraction at the wheel of a car can easily cost a life. When a school bus is on the other side of the crash, the stakes are even higher.

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It would be unforgivable here not to take a moment also to mention the bus drivers involved in both accidents, whom witnesses described as attentive to their young charges and more worried about the safety of the youngsters than their own well-being. It’s good to know that the city has such caring people transporting children to school each day.