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Mar 18, 2010 11:36 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Texting school bus driver busted by student

A Longwood, Florida student on her way home from school snapped a picture of her bus driver texting on the job this week.

The photo was taken by Thea Lawler, a high school junior.

"I was shocked," Lawler said. "It was really inappropriate."

Amazed by what she saw, Lawler said she grabbed her cell phone and aimed the camera lens at the bus driver.

"I hear a little 'ding, ding, ding,' and the bus driver looks down at his pocket, pulls out a cell phone and starts texting while he's driving down 436," Lawler explained.

It was not what the student wanted to see or what her mom wanted to hear.

"Their safety is in his hands," Teren Lawler said. "If his hand's on the cell phone, that's not safe."

The Seminole County School Department of Transportation was alerted and officials looked at their own video from the bus.

The video confirmed that the driver was texting behind the wheel and the driver was immediately suspended.

"Driving, transporting kids in this big, old yellow bus using a cell phone or texting-- it's prohibited," said Kenneth Lewis, of Seminole County School Transportation. "It's not allowed. It's inappropriate, and we'll take appropriate action."

"Every driver is well aware of the cell phone policy," Lewis said. "There is no gray area."

The student said she does feel bad that the driver will be suspended, but she said, at the same time, he should have been doing the right thing.

"It's disturbing to me...the safety of the kids," Teren Lawler said. "They don't have the choice to be on that bus."

The Lawlers said they would like to see a state law that stops texting by any driver.

Texting while driving is not an immediate loss of job for a bus driver.

However, termination becomes more likely with each infraction.

 

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