School bus driver filmed using phone with kids on board

A DEEPLY concerned parent is questioning the safety of her children's school bus travel after their driver was filmed using his mobile phone while driving with children on board.

The mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the footage was filmed last week on a Karrabee Bus & Coach bus full of students travelling to school from Imbil to Gympie, and she believes it is not an isolated act.

"I initially thought my child was mistaken when I was told that the driver regularly does this," she told The Gympie Times today.

"The footage not only confirms it happens, but reinforces what I have been told regarding the frequency."

The worried mother said she is highly concerned for the safety of the children in his care and other road users.

"The lives of around 50 children are completely in the hands of that bus driver," she said

"A driver with only one hand on the wheel, the other hand holding a phone and his attention clearly elsewhere is not a safe driver," she said.

"Myself, as a parent and every other parent on that bus, is trusting that when we pay good money for a school bus service, we are receiving a safe trip to school for our children."

When Karrabee Bus & Coach owner Julie Worth was contacted about the incident she said while it was important for drivers to have a phone on board to receive messages from parents and schools, she said her service does not permit drivers to use mobile phones whilst driving.

"A thorough investigation into this matter will be carried out," she said.

"The safety and wellbeing of the children on our buses is our primary concern and we will continue to ensure a high standard of service."

This is backed on their website by their safety message that customer care is paramount:

"Each vehicle in the Karrabee Bus + Coach fleet is maintained in peak condition by specialist mechanics. All vehicles are fitted with seat belts for your safety and drivers are trained regularly in all facets of customer care.

"As training is an important factor of the employment process, drivers complete a Certificate III in Driver Operations while cleaners complete Certificate III in Asset Management."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Main Roads and Road Safety said research shows using a mobile phone while driving can be as risky as drink driving.

"However, unlike drink driving, a distracted driver consciously and soberly decides not to pay attention to the road - placing themselves and others in harm's way," she said.

"Using a mobile phone while driving is highly distracting and can increase the risk of a serious crash by four times."

The penalty for using a mobile phone in your hand while driving is $365 and three demerit points, which applies to all drivers.

Double demerit points apply if a person commits a second or subsequent mobile phone offence within one year.

The Karrabee Bus & Coach fleet services the Mary Valley and Gympie, providing a school bus service to Victory College, Cooloola Christian College, St Patrick's College, James Nash State High School, Gympie State High School, Jones Hill State School and Gympie South State School.

The parent said she was looking for assurance from the bus company that it wouldn't happen again and that the driver was made responsible.

Gympie Times

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