Friday, September 20, 2013
A Florida school bus driver has been suspended after she was caught on cellphone video allegedly texting while driving a bus packed with middle school students.
Venus Cotto-Silva’s daughter, an eighth-grader, captured the video footage last Friday of the Hillsborough County school bus driver allegedly driving with one hand on the wheel while looking down at her phone, which was in the other hand.
“When she showed me the video, I just couldn’t believe it,” Cotto-Silva said.
A Florida law to ban texting while driving goes into effect Oct. 1, although bus drivers will be exempt.
The 14-year-old girl says she was shooting video to try to gather evidence that the driver curses. Instead, the video appears to show the woman drifting into another lane while texting. Then, it appears the driver finally looks up from her phone and suddenly grabs the wheel with both hands just in time to avoid traffic.
“The scary part is, see how quickly she grabbed the wheel?” Cotto-Silva said, pointing to the video.
Calling it a violation of policy, the school district said in a statement, “Clearly the driver is looking at her cellphone. That’s a dangerous distraction for any driver, but the potential danger is greater when you have a bus full of children.”
The suspended driver has not been identified.
Mayors across the country are now rallying for tougher laws.
“We realize it’s up to us as cities and as a nation to put an end to this epidemic,” Austin, Texas, Mayor Lee Leffingwell said.
Despite the driver’s suspension, Cotto-Silva is still concerned. “Not only are they going to kill the driver, they’re going to kill those children on that bus,” she said.