Channel 2 investigation uncovers school buses running red lights

by: Jodie Fleischer Updated:


ATLANTA - Many of us trust them with our children's lives every day and hope school bus drivers would use extra care.

But a Channel 2 Action News investigation found dozens of school bus drivers busted for running red lights.

"How irresponsible! How dangerous," said Fay Johnson, "My first thought as always is the safety of the children."

Johnson is a parent, grandparent and a teacher. She was shocked to see videos of Atlanta Public Schools buses blowing right through red lights.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer went through dozens of paper tickets, and shared the videos with local parents. They were alarmed to see so many examples.

"That's horrible," said Quinnes Parker, whose son attends an Atlanta school, "You leave your children in the morning to get to school safely, and the people driving the bus are ignoring traffic signals and traffic lights?"

Channel 2 Action News filed open records requests for red light citations, and found school bus drivers in four metro-area districts racked up nearly two dozen tickets in the past three years.

The Gwinnett County School District topped the list with 12 citations since 2010.

"Our goal would obviously be to have no violations," said Gwinnett Schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach.

Gwinnett County is Georgia's largest school district, so the spokeswoman said the number isn't surprising.

"We have over 1,800 buses and really in the timeframe that you're looking at those three years, those 1,800 buses ran more than 8 million bus routes," said Roach.

Gwinnett has red light cameras at four intersections across the county.

The city of Marietta has three intersections covered, but its school bus drivers had no citations during the same timeframe.

"We have a professional group of bus drivers and to have no tickets by the red light cameras -- that says something about their dedication," said Marietta Schools Transportation Director Mark Lindstrom.

Lindstrom attributes the clean record to mandatory safety training for all of the Marietta Schools bus drivers.

"Having monthly training allows us to stop a problem before it happens," said Lindstrom.

The Marietta fleet is significantly smaller than Gwinnett County's, with only 98 buses on the road. Gwinnett says that's a factor.

"Overall we've found our drivers do a good job," added Roach.

Channel 2 Action News tried to ask Atlanta Public Schools about some of the more blatant violations found there.

The camera caught one bus driver blowing through a light that had been red for more than three seconds, then the driver made a sharp right turn.

Another driver drove through a red light at 23 miles per hour, during rush hour on a school day.

A spokesman for Atlanta Public Schools did not return several phone messages.

"These bus drivers need to be held accountable. They have so many lives in their hands," said Parker.

Most of the parents told us one citation is too many.

It is unclear from the videos whether there are students on board the buses at the time of the citations. However, school buses are only on the road when picking up or dropping off children.

Clayton County bus drivers received three red light tickets, Fulton County Schools had four drivers ticketed. Cobb County Schools and DeKalb County Schools have no red light cameras in their respective areas.

All of the districts said it's the bus drivers' responsibility to pay the tickets.

Channel 2 Action News

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