MTA bus drivers keep lights on as safety signal

October 13, 1994|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Sun Staff Writer

Bus drivers kept their headlights on all day yesterday as a continuous reminder of the dangers buses pose to children.

A 7-year-old boy was struck and killed by a Mass Transit Administration bus on Belair Road two weeks ago. Markes Fontleroy was returning home from school Sept. 26 when he fell beneath the rear wheels as the bus was pulling away from the curb.

That accident and two less serious incidents in the city the same week involving youngsters and buses prompted the MTA to launch a two-month safety campaign aimed at MTA employees and children.

"We have to let our operators know and our patrons know that safety is everyone's responsibility," said Jerome T. Fair, the MTA's safety director. "The headlights are a reminder to us and a reminder to the public to be conscious about safety."

Bus drivers were asked to keep their headlights on all day Wednesdays, and they are being reminded to look out for children through messages broadcast to them each morning before school starts and again in the afternoon before school is dismissed.

The MTA provides transportation for 20,000 students each weekday.

Last month's fatal accident was a rarity for the MTA, but officials are worried that children are unaware of how dangerous a bus can be.

The MTA and the city school system have put out a pamphlet with tips on safe travel that is being distributed in schools. Mass transit employees are also visiting schools to promote safety.

"Kids getting out of school in the afternoons are playful and energetic, and we have to be especially alert," said Quintin Jones, an MTA bus driver.

"Ninety-six percent of the kids are very respectful, but in every group you have some who are not."

Light rail and Metro operators are also receiving daily safety messages.

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