Laredo police keeping children safe on bus rides home

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 11:10 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - After more than a year and a half of being away due to the pandemic, school buses are back on the streets, but it seems like some motorists have forgotten how to drive while they’re around.

It’s unfortunate that it’s even necessary, but Laredo police have had to act as escorts while our children try to get to school safely.

“One of the things we did with the help of the Laredo Police Department, we coordinated an effort that the patrolman are actually shadowing the school buses as they move around their routes and the reason for that is, throughout last year, we had very, very little activity is because, as everybody knows, we had COVID and schools were shut down,” said Officer Ricardo Gonzalez.

Laredo police and both school districts are trying to shut down traffic and prevent safety violations occurring in and around school buses.

“Whenever a driver sees flashing lights on a school bus, they need to stop completely and not pass that bus. It’s for the safety of those children and all passengers exiting or unloading that bus. In fact, that violation carries a hefty fine of $1,400.”

“Unfortunately, sometimes people are in a hurry as a result of that we are trying to avoid an accident or any kind of situation where a child may get hurt and the police department is helping us a lot,” Joe Aranda, director of transportation.

Taking a closer look at the situation prior to the pandemic, many students wanted to isolate themselves in their seat, but now that they’ve had some separation anxiety they’re looking to sit in groups and it’s causing a greater concern.

“What we’re trying to do everything we can to encourage the kids to spread out inside the bus because the buses have one window up, one window down. So, there can be some circulation inside the school bus.”

Transportation officials are dealing with all sort of issues they haven’t seen before, like children boarding without masks, but the focus is on those behind the wheel.

“The biggest problem we’re seeing right now is the use of cell phone while driving. So, we try to educate as much as we can, but we want to tell the public especially the young drivers not to use their phone while driving.”

“We’ve got the kids back, just like it was pre-pandemic and we want them to take every precaution they can around the school bus.”

Parents are advised to tell their kids to only cross in front of the bus when exiting, and to make eye contact with any driver who might be approaching... and of course, to look both ways before crossing the street.

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