WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — There’s shock, disbelief, and lots of concern after the I-team report from Thursday. Showing a close call between a car and a child at a Luzerne County school bus stop.
A seven-year-old boy was nearly hit by a car and it was recorded by his mother (video below), the close call happened on Coal Street in Wilkes-Barre.
In fact, a large electronic sign was put up by the city last year to warn drivers not to pass stopped school buses on the always very busy street. But many drivers either ignore or don’t pay attention to the sign or the school buses.
That video was taken by Alison Wynder last week as her son was crossing coal street near north empire court
“I mean this is the closest thing to a disaster without it being disastrous. I mean I’m trying to be proactive instead of reactive you know,” asked Wynder.
Janelle Davison is the manager of Student Transportation of America which operates school buses in the Wilkes-barre Area School District.
“Is this a regular occurrence kind of thing? It’s a very regional occurrence on a daily basis,” Eyewitness News asked.
“We get reports from our drivers about vehicles running the red warning not just on Coal Street even on two-lane roads. Everybody is in a hurry to go nowhere,” Davison replied.
Enter State Representatives Lawmakers Alec Ryncavage and Aaron Kaufer. They say the penalties for drivers who are caught passing stopped school buses have to be looked at.
“Should the penalties be increased? Is it time to look at it again,” Mehalshick asked.
In the transportation committee, we’ve looked at this over the years about increasing these penalties. Which we need to do,” Rep. Kaufer responded.
“At the end of the day, our laws can be as strong as they can. Penalties? We can increase the penalties as high as we possibly want but if we don’t have the evidence to hold these drivers accountable it’s impossible for our small municipalities to put police officers at every school bus stop,” explained State Rep. Ryncavage.
The current penalties call for a fine of between $250 and $300 dollars. The loss of your driver’s license for 60 days and five points on your driving record,
State Senator Lisa Baker says the fines have to be increased.
“I would think a penalty of potentially losing your driver’s license for two months is pretty stringent but a $250 dollar fine seems to be something we should be looking at,” said Senator Baker.
In the last five years, 11 students have been injured at school bus stops. There were no fatalities. But state lawmakers say there is no way to know how many close calls there have been. For the drivers who were not tracked down, we have more information on school bus safety laws.