2018-08-31 / Letters

Reader points out holes in councilor’s letter

To the editor:

After reading Councilor Adrian Dowling’s letter in the Aug. 24 issue, “School buses are the way to go,” I find myself somewhat perplexed. To my knowledge he is not a member of any school committee, so giving him the benefit of the doubt I’ll say he has received communications from concerned parents.

The councilor sites data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on student fatalities from 2005 to 2013. Why? It updates its statistics annually with the current numbers being 2007 to 2016; see “Traffic Safety Facts - DOT HS 812476.” These figures are for school-aged children defined as 18 and younger.

What are the key findings:

 During this period 20.6 percent were from school vehicles and 42 percent from other vehicles.

 During the same period 37.7 percent were pedestrians and pedal cyclists. (Of this group 62 percent were the result of being struck by school buses or vehicles functioning as school buses).

Yes school buses are the safest mode of transportation and these bus drivers are the safest drivers on the road, particularly in today’s driving culture.

This takes us to his assumption, “This results in a reduction of 36 cars from our city streets for each full school bus.” In the real world this is called “logical fallacy” because Councilor Dowling assumes these vehicles don’t move or were purchased for the sole purpose of transporting children to and from school. Over the years I’ve observed parents, grandparents, neighbors, etc., dropping and picking up children on their way to work, medical appointments, grocery shopping and a number of other tasks. Let’s leave the environmental impacts for a separate discussion.

Maybe we could look at some alternative ideas to keep children safer and reduce these statistics. The first thing that comes to mind is distracted drivers – cellphones, eating, personal grooming and even reading the morning paper. Another problem could be the lack of courtesy we extend to each other while navigating our city streets. Finally, adherence to the traffic laws designed to protect all of us.

Bob Foster South Portland

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