After several neighbors have spoken to us about about problems with drivers honking at school buses — including special needs school buses — we wanted to turn to you, dear readers, to see what you think can be done about the issue.
A concerned neighbor, Michael, recently said that every weekday morning he puts his child with special needs on a school bus in front of their home — and drivers frequently honk at the bus “because they can’t wait the 15-30 seconds it takes to get him on the bus and strapped into his seat; the bus cannot leave until he’s seated and strapped in. It’s the law, and it doesn’t happen instantly.”
This week was particularly egregious: when Michael asked the driver of an Audi why he was honking at the school bus, the man rolled his window down and hurled insults at both the father and his other 6-year-old son — while the man’s wife and kids were in car.
Last fall, Christine Salerno, who lives around Cortelyou Road and Coney Island Avenue, created a sign to remind drivers not to honk at buses, noting that, with a large number of children with different levels of ability living in our community, there’s a need for greater awareness of how to support our younger residents.
The honking can be particularly upsetting for children with disabilities, and Christine noted that the bus in which her daughter, who has Rett Syndrome, is “full of toddlers who have all sorts of sensory and anxiety issues.”
The problems aren’t relegated only to buses carrying children with disabilities, and Michael wrote that he and his family have witnessed “people honk at non-special needs buses, fly past buses that have their stop sign out (which means NO passing in either direction because kids will be walking in the street), and honk at ambulette services.”
For example, there’s a young person in a wheelchair who boards an ambulette in our area, and even while the child is being lifted into the ambulette, people are laying on their horns.
So, what can be done?
Michael suggested the following, and we’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below:
- Honking is illegal, except in the case of emergencies. If the police could enforce this better, that would be a start. Our block has people race down it, and though I’ve contacted the 70th, they say they can’t do anything about it.
- An awareness campaign? Signs that say “No honking”?
- Some signs that say school buses and ambulettes have the right to stop and let passengers on and off.
Whatever happens, if you are behind a bus and are in a rush, please remember to refrain from honking and support our neighborhood kids — and their parents.
As Michael said, “I’m asking you, my neighbors, if you see a bus boarding kids — especially a special needs bus — wait a few extra seconds. No one is intentionally slowing you down, and if you’re fortunate enough that you don’t have to wait for a special needs bus every single day, consider yourself fortunate.”