FORT MYERS, Fla. – Cellphones are prohibited devices for Lee County school bus drivers driving kids to and from school. You’d think everyone knew that.
But after Zoe Holden transferred to Lee County in January, the 12-year-old noticed that her driver had her hands on the wheel but eyes on her cellphone. Zoe’s father, Christian Holden, said his daughter and her friends suspect the bus driver was watching a popular HBO series.
“The girls think she was watching ‘Game of Thrones,” Chris Holden said. “You’re driving a bus maybe you’re working for three to four hours a day. The rest of the day you can watch TV.”
The 6th grader didn’t want to say anything to her driver because she was intimidated. But then the driver ran a red light.
“And Zoe called me from the bus and said ‘Dad, I don’t want to ride the bus anymore. She just ran a red light. She’s watching TV while she’s driving. I’m scared,'” Chris Holden said.
Chris Holden called Lee County Transportation a few times but said he was sent in circles.
“You call and you get transferred ‘Oh, you need to talk to dispatch. Oh, you need to talk to this person’ and then you get a voicemail and I’ve left numerous voicemails with them to no return,” Chris Holden said.
With no answer from Lee County, Zoe Holden decided she needed proof and recorded a video. Chris Holden said he’s proud his daughter decided to take action. Zoe said she couldn’t believe that the driver’s behavior continued.
“Are you really doing that right now? While you’re driving a bus full of kids?” Zoe remembers thinking. “The first time it happened, we’re like ‘OK, that’s not right’ and then ever since then it’s been like she’s doing it again,” Chris Holden said.
The school district said the driver has since been taken off duty while they look into the issue. A spokesperson said the policy is clear: no cellphones, iPads or other mobile devices while driving.
Zoe Holden said she loves her new bus driver, even though she still needs help with the directions.