KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A Knoxville mother is upset after capturing video of drivers not stopping for a school bus while kids were getting off.
The video was shot along Northshore Drivve at Queensbridge Drive in West Knox County. Ellie Whitesell waits for her daughter to get off the bus there every day, watching cars fly past her daughter’s bus, hoping her worst fear won’t happen in front of her eyes.
“You can do nothing. I can watch my child die if she gets hit by a car. And that’s not okay,” she said.
She says it’s a completely helpless feeling and one she experiences too often.
“It makes you kind of sick. I mean your child’s life is flashing before your eyes and you’re stuck in a car waiting on her to get to you and you can’t get to her,” she said.
Whitesell has shot at least a dozen videos of cars flying past her daughter’s stopped school bus on an already busy road. She says she’s seen it happen even more times than she’s caught on camera. Whitesell says she’s sent the videos to everyone from the Knox County Schools Transportation Department to law enforcement and even lawmakers because she knows her daughter isn’t the only one in danger.
“It is scary. And if it’s happening here, it’s happening everywhere,” she said.
Knox County bus driver Tony Williams says it happens more often than you might realize.
“It’s more rare that I have a day that no one runs the stop sign than it is that they don’t,” he said.
Williams says blowing past a school bus stop sign is more dangerous than you might think. The switch to pull out the stop sign and the switch to open the door are one and the same. That means kids could come off the bus before the sign is all the way out.
“The standard bus is you flip the switch, the door opens, the stop sign comes out. That door opens and there again you can tell these kids don’t step off this bus until I tell you and that doesn’t mean they’re going to listen to that,” said Williams.
It doesn’t matter which way you’re going – when you see a bus stopped with the sign out you have to stop until the sign goes back in and the bus goes back in motion. Williams says watching for yellow lights is more important than red because that’s your signal that the bus is slowing down and there are about to be kids on the road.
“My message is very simple. I don’t care how big of a hurry you’re in, if you’re on your way to the ER, you’re not going to be near as late as you’re going to be when you run over someone’s child and kill it. You’ll never get where you’re going. Never. And you’ll live with that the rest of your life,” he said.
“Pay attention. Between 2:45 when school gets out and 5:00 at night, there are buses all over Knox county and all over the country. They need to slow down and pay attention,” said Whitesell.
The Knoxville Police Department and Knox County Sheriff’s Office say they aren’t getting reports of this happening, but if a driver was caught, the charge would be a Class C misdemeanor of overtaking or passing a school bus.
A bill sponsored by Rep. Jason Zachary is designed to make it so school districts can put cameras on the outside of buses that would work like a redlight camera and catch drivers who won’t stop for a school bus. The bill has passed the House Transportation Committee and now moves onto another committee.More online: Read more on HB0910