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Setting the wrong example for drivers

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All responsible parents will be appalled at the video footage which has emerged apparently showing a school bus driver texting while travelling in his vehicle. To compound matters, the bus had a number of pupils on board at the time. (Ben Birchall/PA)

All responsible parents will be appalled at the video footage which has emerged apparently showing a school bus driver texting while travelling in his vehicle. To compound matters, the bus had a number of pupils on board at the time. (Ben Birchall/PA)

PA

All responsible parents will be appalled at the video footage which has emerged apparently showing a school bus driver texting while travelling in his vehicle. To compound matters, the bus had a number of pupils on board at the time. (Ben Birchall/PA)

All responsible parents will be appalled at the video footage which has emerged apparently showing a school bus driver texting while travelling in his vehicle. To compound matters, the bus had a number of pupils on board at the time.

When children are sent off to school on a bus, parents expect the driver to behave responsibly and to take every precaution to ensure that the journey is completed safely. In effect, the driver is acting in loco parentis.

The 22-second video taken by one of the students on her phone appears to show the driver texting and glancing down at the screen on several occasions, obviously taking his eyes off the road while doing so.

Inattention, or having one's attention diverted, is one of the principal causes of road accidents resulting in either death or serious injury. In the period from January to May this year, 20 people were killed or seriously injured because of lack of attention.

And that was during a period of lockdown when traffic volumes were seriously curtailed, showing just how dangerous activities like texting when driving can be.

Quite rightly, the shocked parents of the young girl on the bus who recorded the video reported their concerns to the Education Authority, which later said it takes the safety and well-being of children very seriously and has a clear policy that mobile phones should not be used while driving.

The authority has also promised to carry out a thorough investigation.

That is the proper action to take, and the parents of students on that bus would expect it to be carried out quickly and, depending on the findings, followed up by appropriate action. What is most concerning are the claims that this was not an isolated incident and that the driver had been seen using his mobile phone while driving on previous occasions.

If this is the case then his behaviour is inexcusable.

The statistics, never mind common sense, show that having one's attention diverted even for a short period of time can have disastrous consequences.

But it is only one of the hazards of the road as the tragic death of 18-year-old Josh Fletcher shows. He died when his car hit a cow on the Moira road in the early hours of Sunday.

Drivers of vehicles such as school buses should be setting an example to young people on responsible driving. Instead it appears that on this occasion they were being given the worst possible example of what not to do and such behaviour must be stamped out.

Belfast Telegraph


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