Every day parents put their children on a school bus and expect them to get to and from home safely, but others may be undermining those efforts.
When a school bus stops and puts on the red flashers, surrounding drivers are supposed to stop, however many don’t.
An I-Team investigation looked into where in Connecticut the worst offenders were spotted, and what’s being done to stop it.
In many cases, what makes the bus stops so dangerous is where they are located.
In Hamden, parents said they are concerned about drivers not stopping in some areas.
“They zoom by those buses. They don’t pay attention. There’s little kids on the bus and they just don’t care,” said parent Terry Lettiero.
It is one of the reasons why Hamden Public Schools decided to put REDFLEX Student Guardian cameras on school buses that are activated each time the red lights are turned on.
“We may end up with 15 but it depends on the activity for the route analysis. Right now we do have 10,” said Mike Belden of Hamden Public Schools.
So far this year, the cameras have caught 246 drivers that blow through the lights.
Many of the drivers were caught on Dixwell Avenue or on Whitney Avenue.
Hamden’s police chief said part of the reason why the stops are so dangerous is because of how they are designed.
Many of them are on major streets that have multiple lanes of traffic, but the chief insists that the children are safe.
“We have not had a child hurt at a bus stop or crossing the street from a bus,” said Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra said.
Drivers not stopping for the red flashing lights is a problem all across Connecticut.
In Meriden, in just 20 minutes in front of the Mauro Sheriden School, Sgt. Renee Dominguez caught seven drivers who failed to stop.
“It’s a $465 infraction,” Dominguez said.
Earlier this year, New Haven police doubled the number of motorcycle officers on its traffic unit, and part of their job is to catch those drivers who don’t stop.
According to the state’s Central Infraction Bureau, New Haven police have caught 81 drivers this year.
However, they didn’t make the top five on the list of towns with the highest.
Torrington had 82, Cheshire had 101 drivers, Plainville had 108, and Hamden had 246.
But, Hamden doesn’t claim the top spot. New Milford does. There were 411 drivers who were cited for bypassing the school bus.
One of the worst bus stops was along Route 7 and Pickett District Road in New Milford.
“That’s just terrible. We’re not that big of a town,” said parent Carey Padros.
“It’s surprising in the sense that we would like for it to be a lot lower. But with the amount of vehicles traveling through New Milford both north and south, it’s a high volume area,” said New Milford Police Sgt. Brian Glasser.
Many of the infractions come from bus stops along Route 7 where several daycares and the high school are located. One of them is on Sunny Valley Road.
Like Hamden, the school district has outfitted some of its buses with cameras.
“The three buses that have the cameras all have routes on Route 7,” Glasser said, adding that he thinks people don’t stop because of the size of the road, as it has four lanes.
Parents said they have seen drivers bypass buses on residential roads too, far away from Route 7, putting their children at risk.
“It’s awful. I don’t want them to move from where I’m standing until I’m completely secure that there’s no other cars moving around them,” Padros said.
New Milford police have stepped up their enforcement at the beginning and end of each school day, but avoiding the ticket is simple: “Please stop at the stop signs. If you’re unsure, stop. I’d rather you stop and keep everyone safe,” Dominguez said.
Drivers who are on a road where there are four lanes of traffic are supposed to stop for a school bus, even if they are going in the opposite direction.
The only time a driver is not required to stop is if there is a median between the car and the school bus.
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