GANGER: Please watch for students

By Jim Ganger

Pine River Area Schools Superintendent

In an effort to reduce transportation costs and reduce the amount of time students spend riding buses, Pine River Area Schools implemented major changes to its transportation plan.

We have consolidated numerous bus stops throughout the district. We now have batch pick up sites in our communities. We have eliminated buses traveling down dead end roads and placed bus stops along intersections across the district. All of these changes require students to walk to and from their individual bus stops. Some of our rural consolidated stops have five to 10 students loading and unloading. In our villages we may have 20 to 30 students walking to their stops.

I’m sharing this information with our surrounding communities to create awareness with motorists. Regardless of where you live or what school district you drive through, motorists will encounter students walking down roadways and sidewalks or waiting by driveways for the bus. I urge motorists to be alert and drive cautiously.

Even if you see students walking or waiting for a bus, they may not see you or be looking for you. Because they are “youth” they may be pre-occupied in a game of chase, talking or texting on a cell phone, engaged in a conversation with a friend or just horsing around at the bus stop, oblivious to traffic or vehicles. Factor in darkness, poor visibility from the weather, students dressed in dark colored clothing and winter approaching where our roads are covered with ice and snow for the next four to five months. Daylight savings time is now in effect, but it does not start getting to be daylight until 7:15 to 7:30 a.m. Most of our students have already been picked up by their bus for the 7:35 a.m. drop time at our elementary building. Drivers need to be more cautious than ever.

When we are driving there is simply no room for error. At 55 mph your car travels 80.6 feet per second. Even at a modest 30 mph, your car is traveling 44 feet per second. A person’s reaction time to hit the brake pedal or attempt to make an emergency maneuver is between seven-tenths of a second a one and a half seconds. Regardless of the speed I’m driving, my vehicle has traveled many feet before I was able to do anything to correct it.

Because motorists share the roadway with many students, school districts encourage all drivers to exercise extreme caution and please watch out for students.