Stop. Just stop. Not because it’s the law, even though it is. Not because you’re worried you’ll get a ticket.

The sign is universal. It’s a bright red octagon. It has giant white words that say “Stop.”

You should stop when you see it — wherever it is.

But most of all, in the most crucial of cases, when a large yellow school bus is carrying our children, and the stop sign is out and on, STOP.

This week, the Darien community had an incredibly close call. A seventh grade student, who thankfully used caution before crossing the street after getting off the bus, was hit by a car.

Due to that level-headed caution, she suffered only cuts and scrapes.

What if that was an excited fourth grader who relied on what was believed to be a safe zone and simply ran across the street?

What if it was a kindergartner whose only thought was to see Mommy?

There is simply no reason or excuse to ignore the laws, both legal and moral, that govern school bus safety.

There is nothing worth the time will you save by risking an innocent child's life.

A larger issue comes along with this incident — distracted driving continues to be a problem. Whether its putting on lipstick, talking on the phone without hands free devices, or the biggest culprit, texting while driving — we’ve got to put it down when driving.

A automobile in any form is an incredible luxury and convenience, but when not used responsibly, it can be a deadly weapon.

Let us all breathe a collective sigh of relief that what happened to this child was not worse — and let us make a collective community effort to stop.

Stop distracted driving, stop being careless behind the wheel, stop putting our fellow residents in danger.

Most importantly, make a collective commitment to STOP at school buses picking up and dropping off our most precious commodities — our innocent children.

Stop. Just stop. Our children deserve to feel and be safe.

The price we will pay otherwise is one none of us want to, or can afford, to sacrifice.