Speeding past school bus heightens mother's anxiety
St. Paul woman sees near accidents, urges caution
Jan 15, 2013 01:30 pm |
A concerned parent is speaking out against reckless driving after watching vehicles speed past her children’s school bus, while the bus lights were flashing and children were getting onto the bus.
Katherine Skulmoski’s children started taking the bus in December, and over the course of two weeks, she said she witnessed two near accidents with vehicles passing the stopped bus that was flashing its lights. When school resumed this January, she noted watching more vehicles swerve around the loading bus without slowing down.
The family lives on 51 Street, behind Smitty’s restaurant, and Skulmoski can already point to a handful of incidences where vehicles passed the school bus while children were getting on and the lights were flashing, or while children were crossing the street. She explains that the bus is a short bus, and since short buses are often used for younger children or children with special needs, it makes the situation even more frustrating.
“I've seen cars race by as children are loading onto the school bus, yes, lights flashing. I've seen the bus turn off the lights and shift into gear and vehicles swerve around the bus.”
Although she would like to report license plates to the RCMP, she has yet to be able to get any license plates since some are covered in snow, and other vehicles are travelling too fast. The incidences also happen in the morning, at about 8:05 a.m., when visibility isn’t the best.
“Yesterday, when two vehicles drove past the bus, while my son was getting on, I was frozen,” says Skulmoski. She adds that if a vehicle were to hit the bus while children were getting on, the consequences could be horrible.
“It's disturbing watching strangers decide my kids’ lives aren't worth one minute of their time to stop and wait for the school bus,” says Skulmoski, adding, “It's disturbing to think I may one day watch the bus get sideswiped, and my children and several others will be hurt, and all I did was watch it happen. I can't stop it. I'm trying to prevent it.”
Skulmoski is pleading with drivers to slow down and obey the driving laws.
As disturbed as she is to hear about concerns like those voiced by Skulmoski, Maureen Miller, chair of the St. Paul Education Regional Division board, says sadly, it isn’t unusual for drivers to pass school buses unsafely.
The division has received similar complaints and the Bonnyville area has also had troubles with vehicles passing buses unsafely, she says. SPERD has looked into installing cameras into all of its buses to help record license plates of offending vehicles, but the cameras came with a steep price tag of $200,000.
If the issue continues to be a trend, the division may have to investigate the cameras again, says Miller, who admits the thought of an accident resulting is “frightening.
“It’s time to make people aware again,” she says, adding, “It’s really the community that needs to pick up the responsibility.”
Barry Sallstrom, regional traffic safety consultant, says these types of traffic violations are “definitely an ongoing thing, unfortunately.” However, he noted the fine for passing a school bus while its lights are flashing is over $400 and takes six demerit points off a person’s license.
He says it comes down to changing people’s attitudes and having people realize that whatever people are in a rush for, it’s “not worth losing someone’s life over.” Miller and Sallstrom encourage people to call the RCMP and report unsafe drivers by getting a license plate number, vehicle description, and direction of travel.