The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 14, 2013

Readers' Forum 10-14 | School bus safety is no accident

Submitted by Readers

JOHNSTOWN — National School Bus Safety Week is Oct. 21-25. Most people do not realize that school bus transportation is one of the safest forms of ground transportation. In fact, a school bus is 28 times safer than a passenger car. That’s no accident. It is through the hard-working and dedicated professionals in the school transportation industry.

Our safety record is due to tough federal and state regulations, extensive driver training and review and our commitment to safety.

School busing is a more complex and demanding job than most people appreciate. It is supported by an extensive support network including mechanics, dispatchers and safety trainers. The vehicles are built and equipped for the safety of the children. They operate at the busiest travel periods of the day and in all types of weather.

But our best efforts can only deliver a part of the results. An awareness of the law and the behavior of the driving

public remains a critical element in the safety of the children we transport. Too many times, school bus drivers report motorists passing their stopped buses when they are picking up or discharging students.

Pennsylvania’s law is quite simple: A motorist must always stop for a school bus when the red lights are flashing. If a motorist fails to stop for a school bus, it is an automatic 60-day suspension of his or her driver’s license, five points on his or her driving record and a $250 fine.

Observe School Bus Safety Week every week, it could save a life.

Jerry Tibbott

Tri-County Transportation

Northern Cambria

Actions of few cyclists don’t represent all

As a responsible motorcyclist and concerned citizen, I am writing about the incident that occurred in New York City on Sept. 29 involving an SUV driver and some motorcyclists.

I am troubled by the serious injuries caused by the SUV driver and by the actions of some motorcyclists who apparently decided to take the law into their own hands. Some in the media have reported the facts, but others are sensationalizing the story.

I ride responsibly and do my best to represent motorcycling in a positive light. Those of us who ride support rider education and often raise funds for charitable causes.

The safety of all motorists, especially motorcyclists, is of the utmost concern to me, and I do not support actions by any motorists who violate the law.

Each year, the American Motorcyclist Association sanctions hundreds of well-organized recreational events. At these events, law-abiding motorcyclists gather to enjoy camaraderie and spend their dollars in host cities and surrounding communities.

One unfortunate event of this kind, reported frequently by national and local media, can create a false image of all motorcyclists by the general public.

Motorcycling has become an enjoyable, mainstream activity and almost everyone today has a family member or friend who rides. The actions of the motorcyclists portrayed in the video of the encounter in New York City do not represent me, my friends, or the vast majority of the 27 million motorcyclists in America.

If you have comments, please send them to:

Jason J. Kaplitz


President, Laurel Highland BMW Riders

Behind candidates are big bankrolls

Try not to worry about the federal shutdown. Sorry for those missing paychecks or benefits, though. The nation is run by monied interests, and it’s not about to close.

Congressmen spend most of their time explaining to donors why they are indispensable, and since the poor and middle class don’t consider candidates a worthy charity, it’s really the well-off who pick our legislators. Does anyone disagree?

Who did you chose to run in the primary? Few candidates run without wealthy sponsors, and the first task of candidates is to make those backers richer. They may say that’s not the case, but they will assure the backers they believe in a strong economy. Most will see it as a zero-sum game, meaning that you take power and money from those and give it to these.

Candidates find money (kickback sources) and then hire campaign managers to massage their images to win votes.

Sure they vote on justice, abortion and health issues, but those issues are largely a sideshow to keep us from caring about their pay-back agendas. Those agendas have to pay for multimillion dollar re-elections. TV and newspaper advertising is expensive. The Internet is cheaper, though, and you can have anonymous people lie for you.

Americans will believe almost anything about strangers. Whether their skin is different, they go to a different church or they talk funny, we know they are here to rob us.

So if you continue to trust your politician, just don’t check who pays him.

Robert Spencer

Wesley Chapel

Kudos to auto club for aiding animals

On behalf of everyone at the Humane Society of Cambria County, I thank the Cover Hill Auto Club for its recent generosity to the organization and to the companion animals in our care.

The Cover Hill Auto Club held the Last Blast O’ Summer Cruise-In on Sept. 15 at Conemaugh Valley Elementary School and raised $1,300 for the Humane Society of Cambria County. The cruise-in showcased many cars, trucks and motorcycles and had food, music and fun for people of all ages.

The event was a huge success and lots of people showed up.

Jeannine Gailey

Executive Director,

Humane Society of Cambria County

Televise negotiations regarding shutdown

I think we would all agree that CSPAN might be the most boring channel in the history of TV, but I have a proposal that will increase viewership by millions.

The president blames his lack of leadership and incompetence in resolving government shutdown and other issues on the Republicans. After every meeting, both sides come out and tell totally different stories about what went on behind closed doors. It reminds me of watching “Truth or Consequences.” The president doesn’t know what went on, but he is good at reading what his speechwriters tell him to say.

Let’s lock the president in a room with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner – cameras and microphones on at all times – and witness their negotiations over the government shutdown. Now we can see exactly who is to blame.

I know the Democrats blame Republicans disregarding the health care law, but the Democrats are OK with disregarding the illegal immigration, same-sex marriage and marijuana laws, among others.

Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane thinks she should not be a defendant in the Pennsylvania same-sex marriage law “because she is not enforcing it.”

I’m most disappointed that all the moderate Democrats and Republicans who ran for elections, saying they were in the middle, have chosen to sit on their hands while the minority tea party and radical liberals are deadlocked.

Moderates should quit acting like sissies and do what they said they would when they ran for election.

Jim Vasilko


Should we worry about end of time?

In the Gospel of Luke, the disciples questioned Jesus about the end of time. They asked if there would be signs when this will happen. Jesus replies: “Nation will rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom.” There will be powerful earthquakes, famine, plagues and many natural disasters, awesome sights and mighty signs will come.

Look around us now and see what is happening. Should we be frightened? Jesus tells us to be ready because the son of man will come at an hour when we are not expecting him.

On another matter, years ago, Nikita Khrushchev asked why the Soviet Union should we go to war with the United States? They (United States) will destroy themselves in due time, he said.

With trillions of dollars in debt and more wealthy Americans leaving the U.S. to avoid high taxes, should we worry?

Sylvester Baran


People today are wound too tightly

Johnstown still is the friendly city. However, with the closing of the National Alliance on Mental Illness center and the Salvation Army, we still have the Family Kitchen.

These were the safety values of the community.

People are wound up to tight lately. More people are walking around muttering to themselves. They need places to vent and a helping ear.

Winter is coming. There are no subway vents pumping out warm air to sleep on like in New York City.

The train and bus stations are locked up at night. The old, the poor, the saddened sometimes snap.

Life is hard.

James R. McDonald Sr.