More and more drivers choosing to put kids' lives at risk

Posted at 8:37 AM, Jul 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-20 11:02:21-04

This past school year, drivers with Canyon County's Brown Bus Company witnessed the same dangerous scene hundreds of times.

Drivers choosing to ignore the flashing lights and red stop signs lit up on school buses during stops. It's a dangerous and, says bus driver Joy Frandsen, potentially fatal trend.

"It's almost like the buses have become invisible," Frandsen says. "We haven't had a child get injured or killed...yet. Yet. It is going to happen if these continue."

Those flashing lights - as we all know but some seem to forget - indicate children are getting on or off that bus.

Mary Gascon just started driving for the bus company a year ago. She says she's been surprised and disappointed by how many people are willing to put kids lives at risk to save a few seconds. "A lot of [cell phone use], a lot of, they're late for work, they don't care,” Gascon tells us. “You know all it takes is one person flying through and a kid not paying attention, and you can't take that back."

Many may not realize it, but running a stop-arm is a misdemeanor, carrying a fine of up to $500 and an appearance in court.

And if you think you're immune to getting caught, these drivers say, they've got your plate number and aren't afraid to use it. "This year,” Frandsen told 6 On Your Side, “we have written over 200 stop arm citations. That to me is way too many. people are not taking this serious enough."

From their elevated view, the bus operators say they see many offending drivers with their eyes on their phones as they cruise by a stopped bus. Gascon says she does her best to get their attention. “I'm laying on the horn, I’m doing whatever i can to get their attention, but they just blow through."

General impatience plays a huge role too, and Frandsen says people seem to somehow take the bus stops personally. "Our job as a driver is not to make you late,” she explains, “it's not to frustrate you, it's not to make you angry, it's to keep those kids safe. But we have to have the public's help to do that. "

Just this past spring, Frandsen had an uncomfortably close call. As children were waiting outside her bus to cross the street, an impatient driver made a dangerous decision. It’s a moment that still makes her emotional. "Before I know it,” she says as she chokes up, “I've got a red pickup coming up on the right side of me. Wow. Those are somebody's babies and you don't want to hit one of those babies. So I really need people to listen and look. You don't want to hit a child. And i don't want to see a child hit."

The 200 citations written by Brown Bus Company last school year were only a portion of the actual infractions bus drivers witnessed. Sometimes, they say, it all just happens too fast to be able to get a license plate number.

Brown Bus told 6 On Your Side that of the hundreds of citations they submitted to Nampa Police, the police department has not been able to tell them how many actual tickets were ever issued.