Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Romulus police caution drivers about school bus safety

Julie Brown - Staff Writer

Romulus Police Sgt. Roger Salwa is among many concerned about school bus safety, including distracted drivers who ignore safety procedures.
"We have a lot of motorists," said Salwa, who oversees traffic and records for the Romulus Police Department. He sees distracted driver cases often. "Unfortunately in general I think that has increased," said Salwa.
He and other public safety leaders are happy to share school bus safety tips, especially at this start of the school year.
"We do our best, especially if we get complaints," said Salwa. His department uses "appropriate enforcement" in, for example, cases on Merriman and Eureka roads for drivers following a school bus unsafely.

Salwa appreciates Michigan State Police enforcement on distracted drivers, and laws that address the issue. Romulus has an ordinance on distracted driving with not more than a $200 fine.
Barth Road in Romulus, near a school, often gets the traffic trailer used "just to get that awareness out there," he said. Those traffic trailers help in speed limit enforcement.
The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning and the U.S. Department of Transportation urge all drivers:
1. Prepare to stop when a slowing bus has the overhead yellow lights flashing.
2. Stop at least 20 feet away for buses when red lights are flashing, unless driving in the opposite direction on a divided highway
3. Look for clues - such as safety patrols, crossing guards, bicycles and playgrounds - that indicate children might be in the area.
4. Watch for children between parked cars and other objects.
5. Use additional caution in bad weather.
Salwa's common sense advice to drivers: "Slow down. It's better to be five minutes late for work. The last thing anybody wants to do is hit a pedestrian."
The American Academy of Pediatrics, online at, also has advice on many back to school topics, including school safety.
The pediatric association suggests that children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building. The group also reminds parents that the child should walk where she can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see her too).
Also, remind your student to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street - traffic does not always stop as required. Parents should practice with each child the correct way to cross the street.
In addition, the AAP recommends parents teach children to respect all bus rules, including staying seated and listening to the driver.

The website also offers useful information on: walking to school; bicycling and carpooling. It notes children are generally ready to start walking to school at 9 to 11 years old as long as they are at the right developmental skill level and show good judgment.