Edgeville Buzz

School Buses Running Red Lights, Hollywood And Sheridan One Of The Worst


Photo ABC7 Video Capture

Last month, the ABC7 I-Team released an investigative report exposing hundreds of Chicago school buses captured on traffic cameras barreling through red lights and/or speeding down Chicago streets, with a significant bulk of the violations taking place in the Edgewater neighborhood.

According to the report, roughly 347 school bus violations have been caught on traffic cameras since January 2014, with at least six violations recorded at the congested intersection at Hollywood and Sheridan alone.

Many of the videos uncovered filmed school buses recklessly tearing through intersections, just skimming passed pedestrians and stopping short of colliding with fellow drivers.

While dangerous driving from bus companies (businesses entrusted to cautiously transport students to and from school) is enough cause for concern, it was also found that 80 percent of tickets issued to school buses go unpaid, allowing bus companies to remain negligent and for irresponsible driving to wage on.

According to the 20th District Chicago Police Department, the CPD does not track these tickets, as they are issued by traffic cameras, and it has no role in enforcing payment or safe driving practices unless a police officer witnesses a traffic violation red-handed. Rather, the Chicago Revenue Department has sole authority over issuing traffic camera tickets and following up on payment.

A representative from the Chicago Revenue Department explained that unpaid tickets are typically forwarded to a collections agency and tax forms are withheld from offenders until payment is received. However, in the case of school bus companies, these tickets likely go and remain unpaid.

So where does accountability and power to enact change lie?

Karen Dreyfuss, assistant to Ald. Harry Osterman, 48th ward, said Chicago Public Schools should take the lead on addressing school bus safety, as they have the power to make or break contracts with school bus companies.

“The responsibility does fall on CPS to ensure the safety of its students,” said Dreyfuss. “The Education Committee and the City Council can take a closer look, but it would have to start with CPS.”

The Edgewater Development Corp. projects that approximately 12 percent (6,800 people) of Edgewater residents are under the age of 18, making school-aged students a prominent demographic in the neighborhood and their safety a high priority for local schools.

Dreyfuss said Edgewater schools can help ensure student safety by thoroughly vetting contracts with bus companies and terminating them when violations occur.

“What contracts are given to what companies? That could be an influential piece,” said Dreyfuss. “If a bus company has ‘X’ number of violations, then a contract might not be considered.”

While the timing is a little off as summer break inches closer, Dreyfuss said Ald. Osterman is interested in learning more information about the issue and evaluating the Hollywood and Sheridan intersection to determine if additional safety measures could deter red light violations.

With its investigative report, ABC7 included a statement released by CPS: “Nothing is more important than the safety of our students, and we take great steps to ensure every student utilizing CPS transportation is safe and secure. The District thoroughly monitors driver performance, and we do not hesitate to terminate vendor relationships or impose driver bans if our high safety standards are not met.”

For more information on Chicago school bus violations, visit the original report here.

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