School bus driver implores: Stop endangering kids

The AJC received a moving letter from a school bus driver in the wake of the death of a 5-year-old girl Wednesday in Cobb as she exited a school bus. (Here is the AJC story.)

The mother of Karla Campos, Gloria Valazquez (left) is comforted by the child's aunt, Rena Hernandez (right) at the corner of Davis Road and Aberdeen Court Thursday at the scene of Wednesday's tragedy where a roadside memorial was set up. Johnk Spink/AJC Photo

The mother of Karla Campos, Gloria Valazquez (left), is comforted by the child's aunt, Rena Hernandez (right), at the corner of Davis Road and Aberdeen Court Thursday at the scene of Wednesday's tragedy. Johnk Spink/AJC Photo

Little Karla Campos was let off the bus at a curb, but a car behind the bus continued to the right of the bus, running onto the curb and into the grass, police said. Police blame driver error; the 82-year-old driver hit the gas rather than the brake.

While this case certainly raises the issue of when older people should stop driving, I  see people fly through the yellow light in front of my children’s school. Sometimes, they are parents rushing to drop off their own children. I don’t understand why they think saving a minute is worth the risk of running down a child.

Slow down so we won’t have these tragedies:

-In February, Cameron Dunmore was  headed off to school to start his day in the gifted program at Princeton Elementary in south DeKalb. He was  crossing the street at the school crosswalk at 7:30 a.m. when he was struck by a sport utility vehicle that did not stop for the crossing guard who had carried a stop sign into the street.

-A year ago, an armored truck struck Olivia Hayes, a Tucker Middle School student, as she boarded a school bus. She died of her injuries a few days later.

Here is the letter from the bus driver:

My name is Kevin Smith and I drive Cobb County school bus #9980 and I’m scared! I’m scared that the next time a child is hit by a passing motorist it could be one of my kids, and every driver feels the same way! We see EVERYDAY people run the flashing stop sign on our buses and are scared that someday … it could be one of ours that gets hit!

As a school bus driver I have seen more ways that people run our stop signs than I can write about! I watch as parents with children in their own car speed up when we turn on the flashing yellow lights! I watch as parents on cell phones will turn their heads away from you so they can pretend that they didn’t see your flashing red stop sign in front of them! I have been at stop signs waiting to make a right hand turn and have had cars pull up beside me in the grass to try and pass me on the right hand (door) side!

I have been cut off, flipped off, cussed at and brake checked all because someone didn’t like being behind a school bus that was either slow moving or loading!  I’m scared that I will one day have to look in the eyes of a grieving parent and see the lifetime of sorrow that they will face knowing that their child has been senselessly lost to a driver that couldn’t spare 30 seconds of their time to let a child board a bus! Your 30 seconds can cost some family a lifetime of grief!

Please understand that as a bus driver, we are committed to the safety of your (our) children, and yes we consider them our own! We work in some of the worst conditions imaginable, get very little thanks and are the first to be blamed when something goes wrong.

We are yelled at by parents because THEY were late to the bus stop and missed the bus. We have parents push their kids out of near moving cars into the middle of the street because they can’t get to the stop on time … ever see what happens when a bus hits a child?!

We’ve had our pay cut, our hours cut and our raises put on hold, yet we go out each morning and afternoon to face a public that takes us for granted and more often than not sees us as a hinderance to their daily lives … yet we love our jobs, and we love the kids that go with it!

I questioned some Cobb County authority figures last year on the reason we don’t put cameras on our stop signs to catch those that run them. I was told that Cobb County schools would have to foot the bill for the cameras, but Cobb County police would get the funds … who cares!!!

What is the life of even one of our kids worth! When will people see that we as drivers need help to stop these people who constantly choose to run the signs! We don’t need GPS! We don’t even need air conditioning!

We NEED things that will keep our children safe! We need things that will help us with the most dangerous part of a school bus … the 10 feet between the bus stop and the door! I guarantee you that if the fine is steep enough, the cameras would not only pay for themselves, but would also pay for the air conditioning and the GPS the school transportation department is asking for!

At what point do we say “Enough is enough” and do something to protect our kids? At what point do we say that our kids are worth way more than the 30 seconds that you will lose by waiting on them to board the bus?

My heart is broken for the family that lost their little girl this afternoon. My heart and prayers go out to them. I can’t even begin to imagine what grief they must be experiencing and pray that they will find their comfort!

50 comments Add your comment

sara

December 10th, 2009
1:49 pm

This accident was caused by an elderly driver. Let’s be honest and admit that our physical and mental abilities decline over time. All drivers over the age of 70 should have to take driving tests yearly to renew their license.

LSH

December 10th, 2009
1:59 pm

While I agree with the letter from the bus driver above, and I’m sure that all of us have witnessed such abhorant driving in the past- this is almost certainly not a case of a careless or senseless driving. This was an elderly woman- who probably shouldn’t have been driving in the first place. I would bet that her family has known she shouldn’t be driving for a long time. This discussion should not be about driving around a school bus, but about elderly drivers who can’t see very well, have slow reflexes, possible short term memory issues and become easily confused or rattled.

I myself have an elderly father-in-law who should not be driving and I don’t allow him to drive the car with my daughter. The other members of the family are afraid of this tyrant and he will not give up the keys willingly. I could easily see him causing this accident. Our state governments are unwilling to take a stand against elderly drivers as they are and continue to be a powerful voting voice. Of course, we know how they get to the polls to vote- they drive!

Kathy Colclasure

December 10th, 2009
2:11 pm

This should be a MUST read for all drivers whether 17 or 70. It is a heart breaking situation–We have all witnessed drivers passing school buses especially now that in many case they are not turning into subdivisions but stopping at designated stops. Our children are grown but I too fear for lives of our grandchildren. God bless our bus drivers

Diane

December 10th, 2009
2:14 pm

Why are the elderly not drug tested?It doesn’t have to be an illegal substance to contribute to driving impaired.

William

December 10th, 2009
2:40 pm

This is a heartbreaking story which could have been avoided. The elderly driver in this accident should never have been driving in the first place. Anyone who begins to confuse the gas for the brake should loose their license…period! I am currently dealing with the same problem with my Grandfather. He is 92 years old and refuses to quit driving. Whenever I have ridden with him he has hit curbs, mailboxes, Etc. I reported him to the DMV and they required him to report for a test which he passed with flying colors (they must not have ridden with him). Two weeks later he was ticketed for failure to maintain his lane. Legally I have no recourse to stop him from driving even though I fear that his driving is going to cost someone their life. I understand his fear of losing his freedom, however I am more fearful of someone loosing their life. There needs to be some sort of legal recourse for families in my situation to keep unsafe elderly drivers off the roads. The DMV, Police and the current legal system is no help. My prayers are with the family who lost their little girl and I pray that I will not be reading about my grandfather running over some little girl in the future.

Yakkity

December 10th, 2009
2:47 pm

yeah yeah yeah.

DRD

December 10th, 2009
2:57 pm

I am one of those annoyed at times when I get caught behind a school bus… but I never, never would dream of disobeying the flashing lights & stop sign. The cargo those buses carry is far too precious for me to risk any harm to them. I have kids of my own, one of whom rides the bus every day. I see her bus driver greet her cheerfully every morning, and wave to me and her sister as he pulls away. There is no doubt in my mind that he and most of his colleagues care about the kids that ride their buses. I also see car drivers doing many of the things the author of this letter speaks of. Please, people – the 5 minutes you spend stuck behind a bus are NOT worth the life of a child.

Bob S

December 10th, 2009
3:05 pm

1. The driver should have not been behind the wheel at her age.
2. I witness drivers tailgating school buses every day.
3. Until police put a priority on aggressive drivers and the legislature stops older drivers from being able to endanger all of us, needless fatalities will continue to happen.

[...] is the original post:  School bus driver implores: Stop endangering kids | Get Schooled By admin | category: accident, accident driving | tags: abilities-decline, accident, [...]

jennifer

December 10th, 2009
3:22 pm

I like the bus driver’s letter and fully agree. I’ve seen still hesitant busdrivers when I have stopped at their yellow lights. One that stops near my home tries to tell me to go ahead and make my turn. I’m just going home so I stay and give my thirty seconds. That said, I too have a five year old and a nine year old, the things I have seen at our bus stop always amaze me. Then to think; we are your neighbor and we see you at the pool – don’t pretend to care cause we also see you run the bus’ stop sign each day. And yes, I called on you. Just yesterday my five year old and I jumped into the grass because of a young lady speeding and talking on the phone came over into the gutter and almost hit us; I will call on this neighbor too (if she comes by that way again). Then again yesterday after my nine year olds Karate class – so about 4:30 PM in front of The Avenues of East Cobb I was next to one school bus as he pressed heavly on the gas to pass another school bus’ yellow flashing lights. So one bus was unloading kids at the neighboorhood across from the Avenue and the other became yet another rude driver.

Lori

December 10th, 2009
3:49 pm

Everyone keeps blaming this on the old lady because she was too old to drive. While maybe that is the case here (since I don’t know her I can’t judge). But I would be interested in seeing what percentage of accidents caused by people missing the brake pedal and hitting the gas instead where caused by elderly versus non. The simple matter is accidents happen. It’s horrible and tragic for this family, but jumping to the conclusion that it was solely because of the drivers age is not doing anything.

high school teacher

December 10th, 2009
3:55 pm

Elderly drivers have just become a scaegoat. The fact that should scare everyone is that drivers of all ages and of both genders break the law when it comes to school bus protocol.

Guess what

December 10th, 2009
4:57 pm

Guess what all your responders who are making the elderly to blame — with blessings, you will be elderly one day. Can’t get younger! Guess what again. I had an accident a few years ago — hit the vehicle ahead of me and we were stopped for at least a minute at a traffic light. My foot slipped off the brake unto the accelerator. I’m middle aged and this was my second accident since I started driving at 13 (farm girl here). Wonder how some of these opinions will change with time and experience.

Been Hit

December 10th, 2009
5:20 pm

Anyone over 60 should be tested every year. A lot can change quickly, and if they are taking impairing drugs they should have the DL revoked. I was hit on my motorcycle after having slowed down and honked 3 times approaching a green light. I had seen a car in the left turn lane and you don’t last long on a bike if you aren’t careful. I wear a BRIGHT yellow armor jacket, drive a bright blue bike with a bright blue helmet. It was 3pm on a clear day. The old lady driving waited till I was at the intersection and then turned. There was no way to avoid her. I’ve had 3 surgeries and still don’t have close to my previous function back. I would be willing to be tested every year myself if it go them tested. Although I must say the tests for getting a DL are pretty sad.
Specifically about the bus, they should put cameras on it and if car goes through the stops then mail them a ticket. I have a different opinion about crossing guards. Some of them are terrible stopping busy traffic well before the kid even gets to them.
And kids are not the same either. Apparently they aren’t taught how to cross a street with a stoplight or to wait till it turns. A child was killed on a local street because they didn’t wait.
As long as it is tolerated it will continue, there are a lot of issues that could be address.

Darren M

December 10th, 2009
5:20 pm

Kevin’s comments definitely reflect an ugly truth and are a great reminder for us all to slow down and respect the precious lives on board the bus. As any parent can tell you, there is nothing more important than the safety and health of our children. My appreciation goes out to the bus driver’s and teachers who do so much for our children each and everyday. I will say there are many that do obey the laws and express gratitude towards bus drivers and teachers, but they are probably the minority. The points about elderly driving are very valid and could be resolved with laws for yearly testing. Failed politics can cost lives. As a resident of Davis Road, I can tell you that this type of accident will happen again on this road due to excessive speeding (doing 50+ in a 35) and heavy traffic volume (using neighborhood streets as short-cuts). I wrote Commissioner Tim Lee about this last night and he said he was “putting a team together” to investigate changes for improvements. I hope this is not lip service and we see an outcome. Politicians should be more accountable for protecting the safety of our children, schools, and neighborhood. The general public should also take a deep breathe and remember that 5-minutes is not worth risking our children’s safety. My prayers go out to Karla Campos and her family. I hope we can all reflect and learn something from this tragedy.

oldtimer

December 10th, 2009
5:30 pm

Thanks bus driver for your letter. The wonderful lady who drove my children through their elementary years truely deserved more money. She even had a swim party for 5th grades at the end of the year. Ik now not all drivers are great, but most I have been around are and I appreciated you.

oldtimer

December 10th, 2009
5:32 pm

And I should add crossing guards. I do think police would provide more enforcement, if there were more police. These days there is just not enough money for all enforcement responsibilities. Parents keep your eyes open and your children supervised.

catlady

December 10th, 2009
5:48 pm

I have seen this way too much, also. I call it in when I see it, to both the bus garage and the police. The bus drivers need to report more often, perhaps with a bluetooth type machine. When I see a business car/van doing this, I call and ask to speak to the owner. Too many times, the owner is out driving the van!

Around schools, I see too many soccer moms (usually) driving like crazy, especially with cell phones to their ears. I would like to see a no cell phone radius around schools, so parents have to get off! About 3 weeks ago I was overseeing kids getting into their parents’ cars and almost got taken out by a jeep with a mother at the wheel who was on the cell phone, jumped the curb, and came within 12 inches of hitting me! Luckily, since I am no spring chicken, she was going about 10 mph. (Yet I am REQUIRED to be out there each day. And if there is an accident, I would guess we have assumed liability by putting school staff out on the curb.I wonder if I would be personally and individually liable as well?)

Kevin Smith Bus 9980

December 10th, 2009
6:52 pm

Something I want everyone to think about … School buses are not traffic lights! People think that when the yellow comes out on a traffic light … speed up to get by! When the light turns red … you got 3 more seconds before the traffic starts moving! Lights on a school bus are totally different from that potentially fatal line of thinking! When the yellow come on on the school bus SLOW DOWN because when the red comes out … there is a child IN the street!!!

Tony

December 10th, 2009
10:02 pm

Drivers must do better around school buses. Impatience and wreckless driving kills more people on the road than elderly drivers and it is shameful that some have tried to redirect this blog away from a very real concern. As a principal of a school I hear reports from bus drivers frequently about the drivers who run their stop signs and endanger children. I’ve seen parents talking on cell phones, eating breakfast and trying to put on make-up while driving to school through traffic that includes school buses. I have seen drivers ignore the school speed limit signs, crosswalk signs, and crossing guards – all while children are present. To LSH and others – if you checked on the stats related to school bus accidents injuring or killing children, you would find the vast majority of drivers to be younger rather than older.

Yes. People need to slow down.

Ole Guy

December 11th, 2009
12:47 am

The need to slow down, yield to disembarking students, etc, cannot be overstated. However, the very same cautions could, should, and do apply in all situations, from the moment one straps the horseless carriage on their backsides to the point of shuting down and applying parking brakes.

However, several issues should be noted: Often times, a school bus, loaded with older kids, will make several stops, each one being well-within walking distance of a central point where one debarkation would work fine. In areas with ample sidewalks, on clear days, there is absolutely no reason why a 16-to-18 year old kid can’t “hoof it”, particularly considering the fact that all-too-many teens receive very little, if any, exercise. Obviously, health ramifications, with this arguement, cannot be denied.

While the following, in no way, offers validation for impatient divers forced to follow a school bus making frequent stops, the simple fact remains that a line of vehicles whose drivers are obliged to “crawl” behind the bus will inevitably vie for passing space. This, in itself, creates a somewhat hazzardous situation.

Obviously, the bus driver with younger students aboard would be wise to minimize the kids’ exposure to hazzards, and make those frequent stops.

Not to revert into a “back in the good ole days” scenario…my 3rd and 4th grade “school buses” were the city trolleys. Home-to-trolley stop was about a quarter mile, while the trolley ride took me, and my buds, to within a half mile or so of the “dungeon”, where, in our vivid imaginations, the Nuns awaited within their caves. Were the dangers, which exist today, in evidence back then? Probably. Somehow, nonetheless, it seems that we “oldsters” lived in a more sane time, a time when people actually took the time to watch out for others. Or maybe it’s all just my imagination.

DRIVE SAFE!

Father of a nine year old

December 11th, 2009
2:03 am

My heart and prayers go out to the family and friends of this lost angle. My daughter as well goes to Mountain View Elemantry School and is in the second grade. P

Father of a nine year old

December 11th, 2009
2:20 am

sorry my computer acted up. any ways PEOPLE will it hurt to slow down and even stop for a school bus?????????????. I live on Post Oak Tritt Rd. and as I’m typing this I can hear people flying down the road. I’ve asked the Cobb County Police to just sit in my drive way and watch yhall use the street as a race track. to pun an old saying All fire and in a hurry, and NO where to go. But the main thing here is that a 5yr. old lost her life because of an elderly lady stepped on the gas and not the brakes. I’ve told my own mother that when she gets 70 to 75 I won’t let her drive, that I would be glad to take her where she needed to go. This goes to the bus driver…. You have said every thing in your letter from your heart and that is how I feel about these stop sign runners. If your caught running the bus stop signs you need to have your licence suspended for 6 mths. to a year. So people just take five minutes to pay attention. and if you think you can’t drive DON’T do it. PLEASE. We can’t afford to loose our future.

jim d

December 11th, 2009
7:23 am

JMHO, but anyone that would place a young child on a school bus is insane. Way too much crap is going on with only a driver to oversee some of these actions.

Be responsible for your childrens welfare and safety.

donna5959

December 11th, 2009
8:32 am

This is a very sad time, a family lost their little girl…that can never be replaced…and I pray for the family. This is a time, as a community, that we should be looking for a solution. Fact; people speed past buses all the time. Solution; cameras on the buses, start ticketing people. Fact ; the bus should not be letting kids of any age off on busy streets. Solution; pull into the subdivision Fact ; Elderly drivers statistically are a risk, try driving in a retiree town in Florida, Solution?? Fact ; when I was 10 yrs. old, I walked just under a mile to school each day…guess what, that was 40 years ago, times have changed. IT’S NOT SAFE anymore! Cobb County, instead of dropping these kids off from a busy street, PULL INTO THE SUBDIVISION. People are in a rush to go nowhere, unfortunately that will not change, but we must do all we can to use every available means to keep our kids safe, fact is the concern is more about short cuts and how to save money within the school system. The safety of our kids should not ever be subject to $$ cuts. The bus drivers do a fantastic job, and I know my son loved his when he was young. Since they cut down the bus stops, I drive my son to school most days.

Allen

December 11th, 2009
8:52 am

The worst drivers I see around schoolkids in my neighborhood are–their parents.
Every morning I see the parents late for work, or late for school, or unaware that parked cars and houses connote “not an interstate highway” tearing up the road past my home, past little kids being dropped off and high school kids walking to their bus stop. Driving out my own driveway I have been tailgated, honked at, “gestured” to, and on one occasion almost passed (in a 25 mph zone, between 2 parked cars, half a block from the school).
Slow down. If you’re always late, set the alarm clock 5 minutes earlier. Think about what you’re really doing when you drive like an idiot.

Dr. Painter

December 11th, 2009
11:51 am

When someone had the brilliant idea of taking driver education classes out of Georgia high schools, the seeds were planted for accidents with school buses, and all of the bad driving we put up with every day on our streets and highways. School boards spend a fortune on things like GPS units to track where their maintenance trucks are located, management retreats at luxury conference centers, and electricity to run outdoor lighting 24 hours a day, yet they say driver education is too expensive. Where are our priorities? Where is our common sense?

Philosopher

December 11th, 2009
12:03 pm

What an incredible tragedy! I would probably just go on and die if I killed a child..it is my number one worst fear. That said, I think that people who immediately shout,”that old lady shouldn’t be driving” are speaking out of turn,especially knowing nothing about her. Just last month a young mother did the same thing and landed inside a local Blockbuster. Many elderly drivers are much better drivers because they KNOW they need to be and because they have enough experience to know to be careful,. Statistics will probably show that it is wild, reckless younger people who cause the majority of deaths related to automobile driving. In addition, not all elderly people take medicines and not all age at the same rate. My 83 year old father, who parachuted out of an airplane last spring and starts college in January for his second degree, outdrives my 60 year-old brother-in-law by a long shot! Please be very careful speaking without knowledge. I do agree that some basic testing of reflexes, motor ability and vision should be done for the elderly, But reckless drivers of any age should be removed from the roads…period! No repeat offenses…NOTHING.
And jim d..I absolutely agree about buses…the stuff that goes on on them is appaling and I thank God every day that I have a job that allows me to keep my little girl OFF them!

jim d

December 11th, 2009
1:45 pm

School busses zoom thru my neighborhood doing 40-45 mph with kids walking in the dark to their designated pick up point.

speed limit is posted 25mph.

EVERYONE seems to be in a hurry!!

RMH

December 11th, 2009
2:12 pm

@Been Hit – I have been hit and injured by a 20 something male. Should I conclude that all 20 something males are dangerous drivers? Having said that, at age 59, I agree that folks over age 65 should be tested every year.

STJ

December 11th, 2009
7:23 pm

This was a horrible tragic accident. I have spent part of this day crying for the family of the sweet, innocent, small child, but also for the poor woman who hit her. Many people seem to want to instantly jump to point fingers and “blame” someone or something, with anger, when horrible things happen. The headlines of the article I read said, “alcohol, drugs, speed were not a factor.” It also said it was an ‘accident’ (i.e. not intended, planned, or avoidable in many cases) due to ‘driver error’, not senility, not rushing to get someplace, not alcohol, not talking on a cell phone. It also said she was trying to avoid hitting a car, went into ‘panic mode’, lost control of her car, and hit a small child without seeing her on the other side of the bus. Elderly people can and do drive as well or better than younger, less experienced drivers. Has anyone looked at her driving or medical records? Does anyone know she is not competent or capable of driving? And yes, the elderly are tested for medications, drugs and alcohol when in accidents just like younger people (in my state). I may sound like I have had experience, yes, I was struck by a impaired, speeding driver and I am 53. I also believe that everyone should take a driving test every two to five years. When a terrible, unspeakably sad accident happens everyone is a victim. I pray for the grieving young family and extended family overwhelmed with hurting sadness – I also pray for the grief, sorrow and pain of the woman who was behind the wheel. There is a good chance that no one will ever recover. Speaking as a Christian I have just one more word to say for everyone involved: compassion.

lovebugs

December 11th, 2009
8:42 pm

My son attends Mtn View. We live very near to the accident site. I was and am so sorry for the family of Karla Campos. I think so many of us have sat impatiently behind a bus that makes five stops on one street before you can get out of its way (you turn or the bus turns out of your way). You have to wait. I know, it sucks! This is a community. We are responsible to one another and for one another. Let’s act like it! Slow the HECK down! Thank you for your letter, Kevin! We appreciate everything you do for our kids!!

buses are a problem 2

December 11th, 2009
10:33 pm

The big yellow monster is responsible for the high BP readings from many of the metro citizens. I agree with Ole guy, these stupid buses stop every 10 feet for some sluggard to amble from their house to the bus, only to take another 10 minutes to sit down. SOB, what is the deal! It’s ridiculous, and It’s a waste of fuel as well. What happened to the days when you were waiting on the bus or you were left? This is a tragedy and completely an avoidable accident- the old lady should never be driving in the first place. But many times, the inconsiderate lazy kids and stupid bus drivers act as if they own the road.

Kevin Smith Bus 9980

December 12th, 2009
12:51 am

Dear buses are a problem 2, Cobb County has 30 driver openings and we would welcome someone of your caliber to come and bring some of your wisdom and knowledge to us stupid bus drivers so that we could get all of the inconsiderate lazy kids to school!

You obviously don’t live in Cobb County or have a child in our schools or you would know that the major complaint is the bus stops are too far apart not every 10 ft as you say!

At the beginning of each year we, the drivers, are given a set of maps that tell us where each stop is, and we can only stop at those designated stops! This year, the stops were dictated by budget cuts by the school board … elected officials! The bus driver being on the front line is the one that is the buffer or punching bag (if you will) between the angry parents and the school board! We do the job that we are asked to do, and we are asked by those that have been elected by the people!

What most of the public don’t realize is that the bus driver is responsible for the safety of each child, both on the bus and until they reach their stops. If we let them off at any stop other than the one designated to them and they are hurt, abducted, HIT BY A CAR, molested, or any number of other situations, WE are responsible! Personally responsibly! That’s why we need for parents to understand when they ask us to move a stop closer to their home … we cant! Not even in front of their own home if its not on the map!

Cobb County school bus drivers are trained and trained and trained! We go through state and county training sessions every year so that we can handle most any problem that is thrown at us. I would guarantee that I have had more training THIS YEAR than you have since you’ve been driving! You have been trained how to hold a steering wheel and turn up the volume, we have been trained to handle a 30,000 lb vehicle with up to 60 screaming kids yelling at us (six times per day), throwing things, fighting, throwing up, cursing, and being down right belligerent, running in front of the bus, screaming parents and angry drivers all while maintaining control of our bus, maneuvering through traffic, dodging irate motorist, maintaining discipline and still keep an appearance that tells the public we enjoy our jobs!

As far as the kids “ambling” from their homes? State law say that “if we see the child” we have to wait and pick them up … no matter the distance. Bus drivers are not in control of their walking speed, nor can we make them hurry up (believe me I’ve tried).

School Bus Driver

December 12th, 2009
3:09 am

I am a school bus driver for another busy school district. My heart goes out to the family of the 5 year old. My heart also goes out to the elderly lady that hit the child. I have witnessed an elderly person having an accident. She was my late grandmother who stated that a tree got into her way. We took her license only for her to have a neighbor take her to the DMV for a replacement license. Our next step was to contact her doctor and have her complete the necessary forms stating that my grandmother could no longer operate a motor vehicle safely. This letter was given to DMV who sent someone out to her home to “revoke” her licence. Needless to say, she didn’t speak to us for days, we didn’t care. My grandparents were safe and so was everyone else on the street. As a school bus driver, I see people speed through the school zone daily. I have even had parents to put their children out of the car at the designated stop and before their child can take a seat and I can close the door they have already run my stop sign. I have one parent who will likely have her license’ revoked because she will no longer be able to pay the fine that comes along with overtaking a school bus. I have spoken with her several times and her response each time is, it makes her late to work to wait on the 8 kids to get on the bus and be seated. I am afraid that one morning, a child may be running late and will get hit by her because she does not have the patience to wait for the bus to close the door and move away from the stop. In the case of the elderly retaining their driving priveledges, they should be tested every 1-2 years on perception depth and reaction times.

buses are a problem 2

December 12th, 2009
2:12 pm

sorry Kevin- I apologize if i have offended you. In our county the bus stops at every house on the block. I have sat behind those yellow turds and watched the lazy a$$es poke along and finally sit down after having been on the bus for several minutes. I know that when my children were younger and rode the bus, we were told we had to meet the bus at the corner which is 1/2 mile from our house. So my 6, 8, and 10 yr were left there every day-that was 10 years ago. My how times have changed

Ole Guy

December 12th, 2009
4:07 pm

I guess, in my youth, I lived on a different planet. My school buses were big ole brown military buses. The drivers, not much older than the passengers, had commanding officers who gave them carte blanche authority to report unruly student behavior to his superiors, who would, in turn, ensure the offending student’s parents, themselves military men, AND the parents’ command elements, were all appraised of the situation. Long story short…I, along with many of my hoodlum buds, were often made very aware, in absolutely no uncertain terms, that behavior, both on and off the bus, was to be “modulated” TO ACCEPTABLE STANDARDS. I know I know…there are many who will retort: THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW…and there will always be the “OLD FART REFRAIN”, KIDS ARE DIFFERENT TODAY THAN WAY BACK WHEN. To this, my simple reply is two simple words: BEE ESS! Why are people, parents, teachers, the so-called power-elite, so damned afraid of kids?

Kevin Smith Bus 9980

December 12th, 2009
9:26 pm

Amen Ole Guy … maybe we should go back to military standards!

Philosopher

December 13th, 2009
10:23 am

HEll, no! Military standards, my a@#!. Just teach parents how to teach kids! Raising kids as if they were little pit bulls or little soldiers is taking the easy way out, the lazy way! Raising respectful, well-behaved, thoughtful, caring PEOPLE who can think for themselves and think intelligently requires hard work and determination. Anyone can beat kids into submission…it takes intelligence and commitment to raise a responsible human being.

Ole Guy

December 13th, 2009
2:37 pm

Philo, once again, you’re missing the point; you’ve even alluded to it without acknowledging the fact. As evidenced in Kev’s experience, and, I would suspect many, if not all school buses, kids completely ignore the STANDARD…I will repeat that seemingly unpopular word…STANDARD. My particular experiences were set within a military environment, however, “military” and (what’s that word?) “STANDARDS” do not have to be inclusive. Hell, you know that, I know that, I’m sure Kev knows that…Your insistence on “Raising respectful, well-behaved, thoughtful, caring PEOPLE…” is indicative of the “head-in-the-sand” mentality of so many parents. “Oh no, not my kid” is a common reaction to the realities of an uncontrolled mis-directed generation whose parents wish to see only the “Alice in Wonderland” virtues of their little angels. You, Philo, may be fortunate to have well-behaved kids who are aware of the behavioral expectations society has placed upon them…congrats, for this is a direct reflection on you and your awareness of the ever-increasing responsibilities which your kids’ generation will have to bear. Only the concerted efforts, of those who are not afraid to support the unpopular tough way, give rise to the intelligence and commitment needed to raise those human beings to any level of resposibility.

Incidentialy, “pit bulls and little soldiers” can grow up to be thoughtful and caring people who, in their adult years, just might be the disciplined take-charge generation which recognizes problems and takes positive, though unpopular, actions to resolve those problems…unlike preceding generations.

Philosopher

December 14th, 2009
9:14 am

Ole Guy: BULL!! We have butted heads on this before and we will continue to. Once again- I am not just fortunate to have great kids- I worked to produce them- I didn’t uniform them and militarize them. It took brains and hard work, I didn’t spank them, I didn’t put them in military school and they are great human beings. You cannot wait until a child reaches college age to teach them to think for themselves because at that point you have already conditioned the kid to be a follower…it’s too late. A country populated by sheeple is a sitting duck for takeover. Our military fights to protect our right to be free-not to live in a military state. Freedom isn’t always convenient-we don’t always like the way it is expressed- but I am not willing to give it up for the convenience of easy parenting.

Ole Guy

December 14th, 2009
6:55 pm

Philo, sparring over the same issue, while you continue to recharacterize the elements of that issue, will only lead to the so-called circular arguement; one in which there is absolutely no benefit to be derived. First of all, my arguement has not been directed toward college-age kids…I’m not sure just where you got that idea. (In “discussions” thus far, with you, on the general topic of youth and discipline, you have displayed a propensity toward this tendency of recharacterization. I don’t know if this is an honest misunderstanding…possibly a mutual misunderstanding…or if this is your means of “winning the arguement”.) I could not agree with you more…in the late-teen/early adult years, it’s a little late in the game to introduce virtues of self-discipline. However, just exactly what’s wrong with being a follower. We’re all part of a collective effort at some organizational level; being a follower has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the primary issue of self discipline, that is, modulating one’s behavior in accord with the dictates of the society in which one finds oneself. Secondly, there is nothing wrong with military schools. You seem to insinuate a disdain over the very notion that military schools can, and often do, produce fine citizens, good humans, and excellent members of the diverse society in which we enjoy the benefits to which you allude. (during my years in uniform, I, and my Brothers, frequently expressed irritation over the seemingly hollow addulation cast upon us by a citizenry which, as indicated by your remarks, is all-too-ready to enjoy the fruits of democracy while demeaning the virtues which “made the fruit accessable to all”.)

Firm discipline toward the Nation’s youth is neither convenient nor easy. Firm discipline requires the brains and hard work which, in a relatively unburdened society, becomes next to non-existant. Though I am proud, as are my Brothers, to have worn the uniform; to have subjected ourselves to a militarized society, I am mindful that this lifestyle, though not without purpose, is not for everyone. HOWEVER, those virtues of self discipline, over which we have sparred incessantly, are a REQUIREMENT of the privelege to function within a society. Many of our tax dollars are funneled into “programs and efforts” of which the sole purposes are directed toward those who, for whatever reason, haven’t gotten the message. That, Sir, is the BULL to which you refer!

Have a good day, Philo!

Ole Guy

December 14th, 2009
11:32 pm

Problem 2, you’re blaming the messenger for the bad news, which is the very fact that buses, BY SCHOOL DICTATE, must make so many stops. Do you honestly feel that the driver decides where to stop? In refering to school bus drivers as “stupid”, much less lumping them into the same cause as lazy inconsiderate kids, you have not only displayed unbelievable insensitivity and ignorance toward the situation, you have lowered yourself to the depths of despicability. YOU OWE AN APPOLOGY TO SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS EVERYWHERE.

Cobb County Voter

December 15th, 2009
10:59 am

In reading all of the above comments, I notice that some of the problems noted are the responsibility of those of us who live in Cobb County and vote (or not, as the case may be). The bus routes have been consolidated because of budget constraints. Active enforcement of laws regarding stopped school buses and of speed limits in school zones are limited because of budget constraints.

We who live in Cobb County are very proud of our low taxes. Law enforcement and education budgets are limited severely by the the low tax rate. I am bothered as much as anyone by wasteful spending – and it certainly does occur. Likewise, I am very willing to pay higher taxes to increase our education budgets and our law enforcement budgets. Unfortunately, too few of the Cobb County voters agree with me and encourage our elected officials to keep taxes low – regardless of the cost to the community.

No name please

December 19th, 2009
9:17 pm

I wonder if Kevin Smith will be called to HR/Waggoner/Grisham’s office when he returns to work in January and informed of his need to address his concerns privately instead of in the media.Hmmmmm…I wonder.

Kevin Smith Bus 9980

December 20th, 2009
12:10 am

No name … I have nothing to hide as you apparently do! I gave my name and bus number and I am easy to find! Mr. Grisham has read the letter and was apparently pleased with what was said. Nothing that was written is not common knowledge between any of the bus drivers, staff and Mr. Grisham. I have the utmost respect for him and the job that he is doing for us as drivers and our concerns! The letter was written during a time of remorse for each and every bus driver out there because it could have just as easily been one of us. The very next morning after this incident occured, I had a motorist try and pass my bus on the right hand side (door side) while students were loading! How quickly they forget!
Since the letter was written, I have had NUMEROUS Drivers come to me and thank me for wrting what has needed to be said for a long time!

kev's friend

February 3rd, 2010
9:28 pm

KEVIN I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! IT COULDNT HAVE BEEN SAID BETTER!! WAKE UP COBB COUNTY! THOSE ARE YOUR CHILDREN, GRAND CHILDREN,NEICES AND NEPHEWS THAT ARE ON THOSE BUSES! WE AS BUS DRIVERS DO OUR BEST TO MAKE SURE THEY GET HOME SAFELY ITS TIME FOR YOU GUYS TO DO YOUR PART IN ASSISTING US! GREAT JOB KEV!!!!!

Cathy James

March 1st, 2010
8:20 pm

I am also a bus driver thank you Kevin what a perfect explanation of us! All so true! As for the comment about being crazy for letting you child ride a school bus your child could not be safer. What would you rather be in during a accident a car or a bus? What we need is parents and the general public to protect our children when they are on the outside of the bus. We will do our part to keep all our children safe please help us by being responsible,caring and taking the extra minute. We love them all and please pray for our driver and everyone that had to see Carla’s death. There is nothing that could have prevented this tragedy but hopefully with awareness these horrible accidents will be few and far between! Lets unite to protect all our children and please know your bus drivers are really a little like all of you some of us are parents,college educated some not,from all walks of life,all ages,all sizes and from many different places. The one thing we have in common is total dedication to the safety of our students and our jobs. Thanks to All

Parent

April 14th, 2010
9:44 pm

Although I agree that there are plenty of careless drivers on the road, I disagree with the fact that not any mention was made of any careless bus drivers. I see them on a daily basis fly through my neighborhood because they are late. I see them daily run stop signs and not use turn signals. I wonder when it will be one of these “caring” bus drivers that runs over one of our kids? Be real people, just because your a bus driver it does not make you a good driver or faultless.

law

April 14th, 2010
10:14 pm

let me say first i obey all traffic laws. second there is no need for a school bus to stop 10 times within a mile. let the lil turds walk a couple of miles. they need to the exercise anyway. all they are going to do is go inside a play video games. better yet, why dont they cancel school. public education is down the toilet anyhow….all it does is teach u how to conform and work for someone else…