Saturday, March 17, 2007

School Bus Safety

As everyone who drives in Kentucky knows, we have a mandatory seat belt law. Buckle up or else as the commercials says. The law, which took effect on July 12, 2006, states in part:

A person shall not operate a motor vehicle manufactured after 1981 on the public roadways of this state unless the driver and all passengers are wearing a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt (unless the passenger is a child of 40 inches or less in height - see additional requirement below)
If a person is unable to wear a seat belt for medical or physical reasons, they must have in their possession a written statement from a physician or licensed chiropractor.
A conviction for a seat belt violation shall not be transmitted by the court to the Transportation Cabinet for inclusion on a person's driving history record.
Law enforcement agencies shall be prohibited from erecting roadblocks for the sole purpose of checking for seat belt use violations

The law makes no mention as to any exceptions to the above statements as shown on the Kentucky State Police’s website ( 2/3 of those killed in accidents were not wearing seat belts according to the post by the Kentucky State Police. That’s 960 deaths and 46,000 injuries in 2004. 70% to 80% of those involved in light truck or SUV accidents were protected from ejection in a rollover crashes.

Sounds good right? An ounce of prevention to prevent a pound of ouch. So, what about our children who ride school buses? Why aren’t they protected? They are when they’re in your car, but not when they step out of it and on to the school bus. Why are our school buses apparently exempt? Some individuals cite existing laws pertaining to school buses (such a requiring vehicles to stop when kids are loading or unloading, kick out windows or extra doors) as protection enough and yet children are repeated hurt…or worse. Of course, many of those are folks are opposed to seat belts in general. Well, that may be a decision for an adult to make, but not children and certainly not when their lives are at issue.

There are approximately 23.5 million elementary and secondary school children ride school buses nationally. Of those, some 12,000 were injured in 2005 according Fox News reported 4 students from Lee High School in Huntington Alabama were killed and 14 were injured when their school bus fell 30 feet from a highway overpass on November 22, 2006. November 30th saw a school bus run off the road and roll over near Herndon, Kentucky. On January 17, 2007, 17 middle school students were injured when their Grant County school bus hit a utility pole. A few weeks later, when 13 students from Blake Elementary were suffered minor injuries in an accident on March 5th. Then on March 6, 2007, eight school children were injured in a bus accident involving another vehicle near Churchill Downs. And of course everyone remembers the Carrolton bus crash when, on May 14, 1988, a drunken Larry Mahoney killed 27 students and injured another 34 when he drove his truck the wrong way down the Interstate 71 near Carrollton, Kentucky into the oncoming school bus. Mahoney walked away with only minor scraps and bruises (a great reason for the death penalty if there ever was one in my opinion). The incident remains the worse school bus crash in US history.

We all know bus drivers have a hard time focusing on driving, making stops, the traffic, the weather, the noise, and kids running up and down the bus (yeah, they’re supposed to be seated, but who’s stopping them?). If mandatory seat belts were in place, it would one less (and key) issue the bus driver had to worry about, plus in the event of an accident, the students wouldn’t be bounced around like sacks of potatoes. Some states, such as Florida and Texas are already seriously considering mandatory seat belts. The average costs are between $300 and $500 per seat. Seems like a small price to pay to protect our kids don’t think? Is there any legislator here in Kentucky willing to step up to the plate for the sake of our kids? I suggest visiting the National Coalition for School Bus Safety at: for additional information.

Mattress Savings Accounts

Everyone knows that savings accounts aren’t what they once were. There was a time you’d get a toaster, “Green Stamps”, or a set of glasses for opening up a savings account. Interest rates weren’t too bad either. My how things have changes! You’d almost be better off stashing the money in your mattress. No wonder we have the lowest saving of most industrial nations in the world (of course, we’re penalized by our government for savings—it’s called “income tax”). Moderate Man recently visited his bank and got a shock of his life. He asked if he relate his experience, so I said “why not”. Of course, I have to include the usual disclaimer that the opinions expressed by Moderate Man aren’t necessarily those of this blog:

I went into the bank the other day with my tax return refund and with the goal of opening up a savings account to park it in. It has been a while since I had one and have had several over the years before closing them to put the funds to good use. I was shocked when I learned the saving account interest rate was .35%. That is less than one percent. And the banker did try to sign me up for a credit card also. I might as well have put the funds in a Christmas Club or put it under a mattress. I didn’t and instead choose a CD. I went home to research this unbelievable thing. Something is really wrong here. Come to find out the United States saving rate is the lowest since the Great Depression. It is even lower than the great stock market boom of the late 1990’s. The Commerce Dept. calculates the national savings rate at ZERO! This has fueled consumer spending and kept the economy growing. But this is a ticking time bomb and will explode in our faces. If we start saving instead of spending, the economy goes into a depression. And the Baby Boomers when retiring will draw down their savings leading to greater pressures on the saving rate. And millions are unprepared for retirement. Where is the incentive to save? This squeezes the middle class who are hammered with flat wages and high prices. Have you checked out the price of a gallon of gas lately? Guess which country has the greatest saving rate in the world? China, big surprise. And over in Europe, home of the Euro dollar, the average saving rate is 20 %. There should be a law that lets people check a box on their tax returns that transfers their refund directly into a savings account. There should be a law that says a financial institution that deals in stocks, bonds; CD’s, credit cards, and annuities must provide a required minimum interest rate set by the Federal Reserve Bank. One that has a comparable rate to CD’s. Did you ever ask yourself what happened to the old Building and Loan’s that used to be so popular? Big business walked over them and they now have the long standing responsibility to increase the saving rate without endangering this countries economy. Are they up to the task or should government step in?

Do You Want to Upscale That?

I read an article in the March 14th Courier Journal’s "Neighborhood" Section about a petition to bring upscale stores to Jefferson County’s Southend. Wow, I couldn’t wait to sign it and send it to just about everyone I knew. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the Southend being everyone else's dumping ground. We really need to bring some upscale restaurants, stores, and other businesses to the Southend. The only way things are going to change is if we forget about petty party politics and come together as a community to demand change with a united voice. It’s time the people lead the “leaders” and this is a great way to start! So, if you live here in Louisville, please sign the attached petition and pass along to everyone on your list. Click here: Retailers Welcome on Dixie Highway Petition : [ powered by ]. You’ll be glad you did!

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