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Mom says she caught Henrico school bus driver texting while driving

Posted at 6:59 PM, Dec 04, 2014

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- If you are caught texting while driving in Virginia, you are breaking the law.

And that's just what Danielle Richardson claims she and her friend saw while driving next to a Henrico school bus Wednesday afternoon.

"Whether he was putting in a text message or a route of whatever, he still shouldnt have been doing it," Richardson said.

Richardson contacted CBS 6 and sent us a picture of the bus in question, but it is tough to tell if the driver is texting behind the wheel.

Richardson worries about the kids on board and her own safety.

"I was mad. I was frustrated. My daughter's starting school next year and my husband and I have contemplated if whether we do want to send her on the bus or not," said Richardson.

Richardson's complaint prompted CBS 6 News to contact school leaders.

"The photograph is inconclusive. We didn't see anything in that photograph that would indicate what the viewer is describing to us," said Andy Jenks, Henrico schools spokesman.

And Jenks says the bus driver denied texting behind the wheel.

Under state law, commercial vehicles like school buses are not allowed to text or hold their cell phone in their hand to talk to someone unless they have pulled over into a place where they can lawfully stop.

"In many cases, they're used as navigation devices and it helps keep them on their proper routes. So, that they can kids to and from school safely and on time," said Jenks.

Jenks said the school system receives bus driver complaints a few times a week. While he couldn't say how many of them are texting and driving related, school officials investigate it right away.

"We want to absolutely want to make sure that our bus drivers are operating with the utmost care and safety when they have students aboard," said Jenks.

He says if bus drivers are caught texting and driving - they could be suspended.

And that makes parents CBS 6 spoke with - feel much safer on the road.

"If you have somebody else's lives at stake, that's unacceptable," said Ashley Nance.

"I think we need to be more against it and responsible by reporting it to the proper authorities," said James Foust.

Commercial drivers caught texting and driving could face a hefty of fine of up to $2,750.

CBS 6 checked in with Richmond and Chesterfield schools. School leaders in Richmond said they have not received any complaints of bus drivers texting and driving. Chesterfield said they consider the issue a personnel matter, so could not provide any numbers.

Both school divisions said any complaints are investigated right away.