MOORE: Drive carefully – shortage of school bus drivers means more kids are walking – University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily | Directory Mayhem

A few months ago in my hometown of Oakton, a speeding car crashed into a group of high school-age students going home. Two girls were killed and another was critically injured. In which aftermath This tragedy brought our community together donate to the grieving family and plan how to proceed. The sad truth, however, is that the accident would probably have been foreseeable – we should not have to confine ourselves to reactionary measures. That Street The location where the accident occurred was in the top five percent of pedestrian safety hazards in the state, and it has been the scene of 114 accidents since 2017. Charlottesville has similar scary numbers — as of 2018, the city had those highest Pedestrian injury rate across Virginia. With the flow defect of school bus drivers and thousands of Charlottesville kids walking to school every day, I worry that Charlottesville will only become more dangerous for pedestrians. While the city should implement infrastructural solutions, Charlottesville drivers should also step up and do whatever it takes to keep pedestrians safe.

Charlottesville needs 40 school bus drivers – it has six. This means that almost 80 percent of school-age children get to school by car, on foot, by bike or by other modes of transport other than the bus. While Charlottesville was aware of the early summer driver shortage and had an option to prioritize hiring more bus drivers, their solution was to do so instead increase the areas — so-called “family responsibility zones” — where they expected children to be “responsible for their own safety” and walk, bike, or be “escorted” to school themselves. This leaves an obvious gap – students without family members who can safely walk or drive them to school do not have adequate safety protections. Parents have previously raised safety concerns about the safety of their children on their way to and from school. There are families who live two to five miles from school, are unsure whether they can leave their jobs to pick up their children from school, and for whom school buses are not provided.

Charlottesville has one Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, which seems to be the group that would take action to increase bicycle and pedestrian safety. This group describes itself as a voluntary advisory group “dedicated to improving the design of bicycle and pedestrian facilities and the safety of all road users”. While important, I am concerned that time constraints and the reality that members may not always be able to prioritize an unpaid position means we cannot rely solely on this volunteer organization. The committee chair has already raised concerns about the recent shortage of school buses, specify that with the expansion of walking distances to schools “there are many more problems than we can catalogue”.

It’s worth noting that Charlottesville is not alone with this problem. The US as a whole failed to increase its pedestrian safety compared to the rates achieved in several European countries, and the number of fatal accidents among cyclists has increased in recent years compared to European countries. Besides, there was one Top in vehicle accidents following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to disproportionately harm lower-income families and black Americans – likely due to pre-existing injustices.

The fact that the pedestrian safety problem in Charlottesville is spreading nationwide provides an important impetus to rethink the way we envision our society. Not just Charlottesville, but the US as a whole needs reform. For example, Japan has a community support network that ensures high rates from secure public transport and on foot – also for children. A Charlottesville resident has already done so questioned why not model our system after a Dutch city that builds pedestrian safety into its physical environment and Livable Cville called for more instantly also security measures.

In the near future, Charlottesville and the US should heed these complaints and begin infrastructure changes. Nonetheless, all of us who drive in Charlottesville can also make changes immediately. As I jog through Charlottesville, I’m greeted by a plethora of signs that read, “Drive Slowly, Charlottesville Kids Walk to School.” I would like to repeat this again here. Especially towards my fellow students at the university, respect your environment and respect the residents of Charlottesville. Don’t speed, use your turn signals, don’t drink and don’t drive – let’s keep Charlottesville as safe as possible.

Jessica Moore is Editor-in-Chief of The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at Opinion@cavalierdaily.com.

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. Columns reflect authors’ views only.

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