Bus Drivers Fight Traffic, Raising Concerns for Kids Safety

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY - It's becoming a big problem in Ector County: drivers ignoring stopped school buses while your kids are getting on and off. It has become so bad, authorities are cracking down on those drivers to remind them that the stop signs on the sides of the bus aren't just for show.

This is a problem that happens about 20 times every morning and afternoon. ECISD says drivers just aren't paying attention to the warning signs and now they're hoping to stop the chaos before a child gets hurt.

When the lights start flashing and the stop sign swings out kids begin pouring off the bus and out into the street. All those other cars are supposed to stop, but ECISD says they're not. They say about 15 times each day, drivers in too big of a hurry, speed on past the bus.

"The most dangerous part of the bus ride is while kids are getting on and off the bus," David Morris, Director of Transportation, ECISD said. "That's the greatest potential for something to go wrong."

Mary has been driving a handicapped bus for almost 30 years. She tells NewsWest 9, her route requires extra time and patience while she unloads the wheelchairs.

"I get angry because the people doing that have no regard for the lives of these kids," ECISD Bus Driver, Mary Thurman, said.

So last year, the district added a second stop sign to the back portion of the bus in hopes drivers would pay more attention, but that didn't work too well.

"If they're running one, they'll run two," Thurman said. "No one seems to think they have to obey that sign. It's for somebody else but not them."

Mary says each time she heads out with a load of students at least five people ignore those signs.

"They're taking a really big chance of running over one of these kids," Thurman said.

"It's just motorists in general that are in a hurry to get to where they want to go and some find it an inconvenience to have to stop while kids are getting on and off the bus," Morris said.

Because this has become such a big problem for bus drivers, the schools are trying something new.  Starting next week, they'll send District Police and DPS troopers out with drivers hoping to catch violators in the act. School officials tell NewsWest 9, if you get stopped be ready to write a big check. Fines run between $200 and $1,000.