Driving and Dialing Bus Drivers May Cause Accidents - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/7/07

Driving and Dialing Bus Drivers May Cause Accidents

About 17,000 children are injured in school bus accidents every year, and federal officials say drivers who talk on cell phones while driving could be partly to blame.

In Prince Georges County in Maryland, a bus driver on a cell phone lost control of the wheel and 30 students ended up in the hospital.

In another accident, 8-year-old Deneik Brownlee's right forearm was severed. The bus driver was reportedly distracted by his cell phone.

After two months in the hospital, Brownlee faces more surgeries, and her mother will no longer allow her daughters to ride the bus to school.

"A bus driver shouldn't be text messaging or talking on the phone when he has the lives of young children in his hands," said Makeba Fitzgerald, whose daughter was in a bus accident. "You are jeopardizing the lives of tomorrow."

There have been other cases, too, so after a few tips from concerned mothers in North Carolina, "Good Morning America" sent its undercover team to try to catch bus drivers dialing and driving.

On bus after bus, in a four-day period, ABC News saw a total of 17 bus drivers dialing and talking on the phone.

When one driver spotted ABC News' camera, he put his phone down. Another driver did the same thing.

The federal government said school bus drivers should never talk on their cell phone while driving. They should pull over if they need to make a call.

"Cell phones and bus drivers shouldn't be mixing," said Jonathan Adkins of the Governors Highway Safety Association. "Every state should pass a law to ban bus drivers from operating a cell phone while passengers are in the bus."

Only 11 states and the District of Columbia have such a law.

Most mothers that ABC News spoke to agreed that bus drivers have their hands full without talking on the phone and should focus on the task at hand.

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