School bus driver caught on video looking at phone while driving

Originally posted on NJ.com.

A school bus driver in Vernon, New Jersey who was recorded looking down at her phone while driving with children aboard Friday will no longer be allowed to work in town, authorities said Monday.

A motorist on Route 18 south recorded the bus speeding Tuesday morning.

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"That's a major error," Superintendent Arthur DiBenedetto said Monday. "That's not at all acceptable. She will not be returning to that route or to any route in Vernon."

The driver works for First Student, which handles bus routes for the Vernon school district.

The video recorded Friday afternoon just after 3 p.m. shows the driver putting on her glasses as she looks down at the Nextel push-to-talk phone and continues to drive. In a second video, the driver holds the steering wheel in the left hand and her phone in her right hand.

The driver was reponding to a call for assistance from another driver, DiBenedetto said Monday. She was not texting, but rather scrolling on the walkie-talkie type phone as she searches for a phone number for the other driver, DiBenedetto said.

Some drivers in Vernon are issued those types of phones because the hilly terrain limits cell service, the superintendent said.

The bus was traveling along Pochuck Mountain Road with middle school students aboard when the video was recorded, DiBenedetto added.

Police could ticket the driver.

"We are working in connection with the board of education," a Vernon police spokesman said. "Charges or summonses would come at the conclusion of the investigation."

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