More than a handful of Creston school bus drivers are calling for more police presence in bus zones during school pick-up and drop-off hours, highlighting growing concerns over the safety of children and an increase in drivers not respecting busses with their lights flashing.
Wayne Gilmore, a school bus driver for Yaqan Nukiy School, said that not a day goes by where a driver doesn’t run through his stop sign or lights.
He said that this past school year has been the worst he’s seen in terms of drivers not obeying the law, noting that he reported five incidents to the police on the first day of classes.
“Someone’s child is going to end up dead,” said Gilmore.
He gave an example of a driver shrugging him off after driving through his stop sign and lights as a child was getting off the bus.
“She drove out and right around in front of the bus, right under the stop sign. I’ve got my hand out, blowing the horn, waving out the window,” he said. “She stops, opens her window, looks at me, shrugs and drives away.”
School District 8 bus driver Barb Clemens said that incidents like that are “way too common,” noting that people also drive past her stopped bus every day.
“A person coming around the corner coming at me had no intentions of stopping. No intentions,” said Clemens. “I have a little girl who’s in kindergarten. Her mom actually physically stepped in front to stop him. They almost got into a fistfight.”
Like Gilmore, Clemens said that she’s also concerned that a child will get killed. She said that she’s speaking out now to protect children in the community.
“We’re all trying really hard to work with the public, but they’re not working with us. We feel discouraged,” said Clemens.
Chad Boucher, a bus driver for School District 8, added to Clemens’s comments, saying that bus drivers are also trying to protect themselves from the potential trauma of seeing a child get killed.
“I know myself, I would need time off if I saw a kid die in front of me. I’d be a mess for a long time,” said Boucher.
Betty Gilmore, Wayne’s wife and a bus driver for School District 8, said that she and other bus drivers have stopped reporting drivers who don’t respect the law to the police, arguing that the local RCMP aren’t issuing any real consequences for those who break the law.
“If we report somebody going through the lights, we want them charged. Not a warning. We want them charged,” said Betty.
Similarly, Boucher said that he doesn’t report 75 per cent of drivers who pass his stopped bus.
“Bus drivers are just giving up on dealing with the police because nothing happens. It’s the sad part about it,” he said.
In British Columbia, drivers who pass school busses with their lights flashing and their arm out can face a fine of $368, as well as three driver penalty points.
“Every time a bus driver reports a driver not obeying the stop signals — as long as they have a licence plate — we write a ticket,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Currie of the Creston RCMP. “Also, if we have a member patrolling at the time the busses are running, we will watch for traffic violations.”
Wayne, however, argued that it’s “damn seldom” that he sees police cars patrolling during school pick-up and drop-off hours.
“The only way we can get change to happen is if they start hitting people in their pockets and three points on their license so their insurance goes up,” said Wayne. “Maybe then the word will get out, but until the police start doing something, somebody is going to get killed.”