It doesn’t get more frightening than this: a bus full of school kids, driven by a drunk driver.
It didn’t happen in Ontario – not last week, anyway. But one week ago in Ottawa, a school bus driver experienced a minor collision while en route to pick up children. No one was hurt, but a subsequent breathalyzer test revealed that she was impaired.
One has to think what would have happened had the small collision not occurred. A drunk school bus driver would have gone on to pick up the children, whose lives would then have been placed in her impaired hands. Suppose the accident had happened with a bus full of kids?
Parents entrust their children to a bus driver, assuming that the driver is qualified and sober. Driving drunk with kids is a betrayal of that trust.
Even with proper vetting procedures, which all school bus companies should have, there’s always a chance that personal issues will intrude and lead a driver to drink on rare occasions. That is why some experts believe that all school buses should be equipped with ignition interlocks. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.
Fleets have the option of installing the interlocks, but no province has introduced legislation to require them.
Fortunately, the driver has been dismissed, and will soon appear in court. As Ontario has an ignition interlock law, perhaps one will be ordered, and the offender, in addition to not driving a school bus, will be prevented by technology from driving her own vehicle while under the influence.
There’s no doubt that the school served by this bus dodged a bullet last week. Let’s hope that the bus company and the transportation authority work together to keep school children safe on the road.