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ALEX HARROLD: People not stopping for school buses and other things that should drive you

The province launched an online survey — www.ednet.ns.ca/bussurvey — asking parents and guardians about their experiences with their regional school bus systems.
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“Mistakes. I've made a few. But then again; too few to mention.”

Great lyric from a great song. Too bad it doesn't reflect reality. If only you really could do things your way, without all the negative effects or fallout you might never know about that impacts so many others.

There are negative things that happen we usually conclude are too big, or too exhausting, for us to fix. Wars. Corruption. Maniacs with guns.

Other things maybe could be fixed, if only, somebody DID something about it.

Not me. I can't get out of my own way. And not you. Yeah, it's a shame, whatever it is, but what are you gonna do?

It reminds me of something my brother's four-year-old grandson said to me years ago, when we lost sight of his parents and grandparents in a crowd, and I asked him what we should do.

He replied, showing only slight concern, with, “I don't know what to tell you, Uncle Al.”

It's part of the human mystery that we repeat mistakes from one generation to the next, because finding our own way in the world appears to be a compulsive trait. We can chalk a large part of our knowledge up to personal experience, which is fine if your mistake doesn't kill anybody and was mostly preventable in the first place.

Here, I'm thinking of the 24-year-old driver who killed three young children, all siblings, when she failed to stop for a school bus discharging young students. She explained afterwards that she didn't know she was supposed to stop for a school bus.

Think about that for a second. Twenty-four? Doesn't know you're supposed to stop for a school bus? Who doesn't know that?

According to my daughter, who spent a couple of years driving a school bus, there are plenty of drivers who don't stop. Every day.

According to my daughter, who spent a couple of years driving a school bus, there are plenty of drivers who don't stop. Every day. They either don't know, or even worse (if that's possible), don't care. That's a whole level of human mistake stupidity, that, if not entirely fixable, is something we can address. Starting today.

Think about her excuse of not knowing. Probably not true, though we'll never know who didn't teach her that.

Driving automobiles without having changed with the times is a dumb thing we've done for a long time. There's easily 10 times more cars on the road, and 10 times more roads, than when I learned to drive, but it's doubtful the driving tests acknowledge that. I'd go as far to suggest that the driver's test hasn't changed since my father's days of learning to drive in the 1940's. You know, when there was no such thing as Driver Training Schools. If there were, who knew?

We may not be able to right every wrong, but we should try to get the ones we can fix. Getting all drivers to stop for school busses seems attainable.

With that in mind, why isn't driver training linked directly to public school education? Seems like that would be an easy thing to do. It would both formalize and unify the process, so everyone is getting similar training.

While we're at it, current age requirements might be adjusted to fit the situation young people face today that is far different from the youth of generations past. I know that not stopping for school busses is something people of all ages do, but we shouldn't be relying on a 60 or 80-year-old standard that may not apply in today's world. Sixteen today is not the same as 16 all those years ago.

If I still drove, I could say with some assurance that I learned a thing or two about driving over the years.

I learned the hard way about hydroplaning at age 17, when I flipped my '60 Chevy convertible in the rain. I always slowed down after that when the roads were wet. Still drove kinda fast though, well into my 30s.

One day, I hit a moose. I wasn't speeding, it just happened. Lots of mistakes, though. Lots of them. Regret every one. We may not be able to right every wrong, but we should try to get the ones we can fix. Getting all drivers to stop for school busses seems attainable.

Alex Harrold is a retired teacher and attorney, living in Westport with his wife, Eileen.

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