Zipping past school buses not only reckless, but illegal

OlympianSeptember 16, 2013 

The law requires drivers to stop when a school bus swings out its stop arm and turns on its flashing red lights. (TONY OVERMAN/Staff Photographer)

TONY OVERMAN — The Olympian

BOO: Drivers who pass school buses

The results are incredulous. During a one-day statewide survey, Washington school bus drivers witnessed 1,500 illegal passing violations in 110 school districts. Some drivers even passed school buses on the right side.

Each recorded incident put a child’s life in danger.

The law requires drivers to stop when a school bus swings out its stop arm and turns on its flashing red lights. The exception is when cars are on the opposite side of a divided highway.

Obviously, a public education campaign and stepped-up law enforcement efforts are needed. Driving a car is a responsibility and a privilege that requires skill, attention, focus and knowledge.

YAY: Discussion on race

South Puget Sound Community College launches a new artist and lecture series Tuesday night with a compelling speaker on the subject of race in America. Eddie Moore Jr. will speak about the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin and other topics at 6:30 p.m. at the Minnaert Center located on the campus. It’s exciting to see the college initiate stimulating community conversations.

BOO: uneven Wealth distribution

The rich are getting richer in America. An updated study shows the top 10 percent took home more than half of the nation’s earned income. It gets better for the top 1 percent. They take home 22.5 percent of all income. The 1 percenters’ income grew by 20 percent in 2012, while the rest of us managed a meager 1 percent. The top 1 percent group’s share of earned income is the highest since 1913, when the U.S. adopted an income tax.

YAY: No-cursing rules

The superintendent of a Connecticut school district has a ban on cursing. Any student in New Britain schools who swears at an adult gets suspended for 10 days, and sent home with a bar of soap. It’s old fashioned, perhaps, and the soap is a gimmick, but quality learning cannot occur in an environment where students think it’s OK to curse at a teacher.

BOO: Plastic bags

As Thurston County jurisdictions begin to consider a ban on single-use plastic grocery bags, a remotely related bag story was reported last week. A Nebraska woman left a Walmart store with heavy canned goods in a plastic bag, which ripped and the spilled cans cut her foot. The foot became infected and she died 11 months later. The woman’s husband is suing Walmart – surprise! – because the store should have instructed its workers to double-bag.

YAY: Cleaning up

A 19-year-old man from the Netherlands may have invented a way to rid the world’s oceans of the billions of tons of plastic collecting in five huge gyres. Boyan Slat has devised boom-like devices that move through the water using solar and wave power and collect the waste without harming fish or plankton. He’s launched The Ocean Cleanup Foundation to build his design, but estimates that selling the plastic for recycling would ultimately turn a profit. Sounds like a win-win.

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