Residents worried about safety of kids getting on the school bus

By  | 

ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) Parents rely on school buses to get their kids to school safely, but some parents are concerned about their child's early commute and are pushing for harsher penalties for drivers that don't stop for buses.

Every weekday morning, Hillary Desilets helps her three children get ready for school. Once shoes are tied and jackets are zipped, they're out the door to catch the school bus alongside Susie Wilson Road in Essex.

"It's very busy, especially during the morning commute," said Desilets.

As the bus approaches and comes to a stop, the driver lays on the horn. But, it's not to get attention from the kids. The beeps are for the drivers whizzing by instead of stopping.

"Every morning I can take a video, and I can get two, three cars, sometimes four, going right past the bus," said Desilets.

When you see kids getting on or off the bus, you'll notice red flashing lights. Whether you are on a two- or four-lane road. The law says you must come to a complete stop and stay stationary until the lights are turned off.

"This thing is 45-feet long, it's bright yellow," said bus driver Bobbi Jo Juwell. "You got lights going, it should be a no-brainer, but it's not."

Juwell has driven this route for two-and-half years and says laying on the horn didn't prevent drivers from breaking the law.

"People are not concentrating on the roads as much," said Juwell. "They are preoccupied with their day. They are on their phones a lot. We see that constantly."

Essex buses do not have exterior cameras, and in order to prosecute a driver, the bus driver must catch the license plate and description of the person driving the car. But Juwell says that would take her eyes off the kids. Both Juwell and Disilets hope law enforcement either bumps up patrols or increases the $275 fine.

"Let's do it before somebody loses a child," said Juwell.

WCAX News reached out to Essex Police multiple times and have not gotten a response. Desilets says she emailed the department. After a couple weeks she says an officer got back to her and said they do not have the resources to address her concerns.