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.)
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!