Thursday, February 2, 2006
7 News Features: Risky Ride
Every day we trust them to carry our most prescious cargo. But do you know how good your school bus driver is? Whether or not he speeds. The results of our four month investigation shows many kids are being taken for a risky ride. Seven's Patrick Fraser has the story.
WSVN--We started early on a September morning ...
Off and on for four months, watching those big yellow school buses... carrying your children.
"Here comes a bus doing 42 MPH."
Your precious children.
"43 miles an hour."
We wanted to see if we would catch a few buses speeding.
We didn't catch a few ---- we caught a bus load of speeders.
We began by making sure our new callibrated radar gun was accurate.
North Bay Village police let us compare ours to theirs... side by side.
And so we started watching the drivers trusted with your children...
We watched them speeding on bright sunny days.
"42 IN A 30..."
Patrick Fraser: "Do you know you were speeding back there?"
Patrick Fraser: "About 42 in a 30."
We watched them line up and race from school -- through the 15 mile per hour school zone.
Doing 25... 28... 31... and 30 right by the sign warning them to go 15 -- right past parents wondering why someone doesn't slow them down.
Milton Frederick: "Need to do something because I don't want my kids around no bus that's speeding."
Some drivers didn't hit the brakes for a school zone... and didn't hit the brakes for a rain storm.
Antonio Thomaz: "They always go by me and they come pretty fast."
Racing down the slick street doing 42 in a 30... 43... 46... 12... 13... 16 miles over the speed limit. Signs don't slow down the drivers and neither does mother nature.
Lewis Solorzano: "They just keep on going. They don't respect people and they speed usually."
Patrick Fraser: "Now you may be thinking, so what? Everybody speeds. Everywhere. True, but two things... You don't have someone else's kids in your car and secondly, you don't have to stop a big yellow bus."
Dr. Alan Ross: "You don't need to be an expert or scientist. It's basic force equals mass times acceleration. The faster the bus is going the more impact the children are going to be subjected to when the bus comes to a violent stop."
The simple solution of course, slow the drivers down. But surprisingly most we talked to had no idea they were breaking the law.
Patrick Fraser: "Did you know you were speeding back there? You were doing 41 in a 30?"
Patrick Fraser: "You were. Does that scare you that you were going that fast?"
"I'm sorry about that."
At least she was sorry, and granted many drivers do obey the law.
But what stunned us, the sheer number going 10 - 15 - 18 miles over the speed limit.
Patrick Fraser: "How you doing? Do you know you were speeding back there? You were doing 48... 48 in a 30."
Patrick Fraser: "You didn't know that?"
There are thousands of buses in South Florida. And a couple of suggestions to help slow them down...
Trucking companies use GPS devices that would alert the district if a bus was speeding.
The Florida Highway Patrol has another suggestion... Put signs on the back with a number to call if you spot a dangerous driver.
Lt. Pat Santangelo: "Therefore they could identify particular buses who may have problem drivers. They could start watching those drivers to make sure those drivers are complying with the rules."
Both Dade and Broward do send out supervisors in unmarked cars to make sure their drivers are obeying the law... And Dade's school district believes overall their drivers do a good job.
Joe Garcia: "Our safety record has actually been reviewed by the State of Florida, through the office of policy planning, and actually they gave us high marks."
But after we found so many drivers speeding our expert says a good safety record is just not good enough.
Alan Ross: "Clearly speeding is a terrible risk to our children. And, we should use every means possible to make sure these vehicles do not go past the posted speed limit."
To do that, GPS systems, police targeting the buses... cost money.
"30---19 miles over the speed limit..."
Money that hopefully will be spent before a speeding driver cost a child his life.
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