Reporting Dave Savini
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CHICAGO (CBS) – School speed zones are supposed to be safe. Drivers must go no more than 20 miles per hour.
So, why are so many drivers speeding through them — especially the ones behind the wheel of those big yellow buses with kids aboard?
CBS 2′s Dave Savini uncovers school bus drivers going twice the limit. The latest reason may surprise you.
Savini caught school bus drivers passing and speeding through school zones because they are afraid missing their next stop will mean losing pay.
Drivers followed by CBS 2′s investigators were caught traveling well over the 20 mph limit — speeds as high as 41 mph. Sources say bus drivers are being forced to run more routes and are being pressured to speed in order to make it on time.
Richton Park is one community where this is happening. Sixth-grader Chloe Blatzer was on a speeding bus CBS 2 clocked going 34mph in a 20mph zone.
“She always drives fast,” the student says of her driver, who declined to talk with Savini.
Chloe recalls one time where she ended on the floor of the vehicle.
“She went too fast and I bumped my head right on the top and I slid, I actually literally slid on the floor,” the girl says.
CBS 2 has learned the Kickert School Bus Company squeezed in an extra school district for its drivers to service. The company increased its revenue without adding the necessary staff, says one of the company’s drivers, who does not want to be identified.
The driver says they are encouraged to break the speed limit to complete their routes. He says they are assigned impossible pickup and drop-off schedules to meet, making speeding common in south suburbs that include Matteson, Richton Park, Park Forest and newly added Homewood.
“The bus company is aware that the buses are speeding, and they don’t care,” says the Kickert driver.
Richton Park Police Chief Elvia Williams-Yancy says she had her officers issue warnings to speeding bus drivers in years past. She said she did not realize the problem had gotten this bad.
“I thought we had taken care of the problem last year,” she says.
In fact, CBS 2 caught buses speeding right in front of police squad cars and no action was taken.
Now, Richton Park police are now on alert to watch for school bus drivers who break the law.
Kickert Bus Company officials declined to speak to CBS 2 to answer questions about alleged pressure on drivers.
The company, however, says its top priority is transporting students safely and that they plan to put GPS on all their buses soon.
The superintendent of District 162 says she has warned them to slow down, and so have the police. Citations will coming soon if they don’t.