WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita school district participated in a national school bus illegal passing survey on Wednesday.
The goal of the survey is to determine the prevalence of illegal passing of school buses, so state officials can help improve safety countermeasures.
KSN followed along a Wichita school bus driver on Wednesday to find out what they are up against on a daily basis. For bus driver Kim Levens, safety is the number one priority.
“I don’t even have a word to describe how important it is. You have somebody else’s children on this bus that you are responsible for,” Levens said.
Levens, who is also a school bus trainer, said she is responsible for the students when they are on her bus as well as when the kids are getting picked up and dropped off.
“If you think you can take this lackadaisically and think well, you know, oh well, no! How are you going to look yourself in the mirror if one of them gets hurt based on something you did or didn’t do,” Levens said.
Levens drives a bus route in south Wichita. She said it’s common for drivers to ignore her stop sign especially when she drops kids off along Hydraulic Street.
“Just this morning I wrote up five stop-arm violations and that’s a daily thing for me,” she said. “People, they are just not paying attention. They are distracted. We live in a very busy world today and we are either on our phones, we are talking to people in the car, maybe we are doing business in the car, on a computer, and we are just not 100 percent focused into driving.”
KSN followed Levens on her Wednesday afternoon bus route and witnessed multiple cars ignore her flashing lights and bus stop arms.
“That’s scary to me. To think we might have to call a parent to say their child got ran over,” Levens said.
Levens said she has signals worked out with her riders so they know when it is safe to exit the bus, cross the street, etc. She said she will do just about anything to make sure her kids get to and from school safely because to her, the students are her family and the reason she does her job.
“The kids make it. Especially the little kids, the elementary kids, that makes your job worth it,” she said.
Wichita bus drivers logged nearly 450 bus stop violations during the one-day survey in 2016. Drivers will turn Wednesday’s results into the state, so officials can continue to track and study the issue in hopes of finding new ways to educate drivers.