Leverett parents pushing for school bus safety legislation after too many close calls

Local legislators have now stepped up to advocate for more laws surrounding school bus safety as these parents’ calls for action become more urgent each day.
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 4:36 PM EDT|Updated: May. 2, 2023 at 6:20 PM EDT
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LEVERETT, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Parents in Leverett are calling for change after years of witnessing cars pass red flashing lights on their children’s school bus on their way to and from school.

Local legislators have now stepped up to advocate for more laws surrounding school bus safety as these parents’ calls for action become more urgent each day.

Signs can be seen alongside Route 63 in Leverett urging drivers to slow down. Dozens of cars drive past the home of Wes and Audra Goscesnki daily, and now, the couple is calling for change.

“Drivers are unfortunately ignoring bus safety laws as they fly down this road, and they pass our school bus with its red lights flashing, its stop sign out as our children are getting off and on the bus,” Wes Goscesnki told us.

“Our children have had their lives risked too many times and we want change,” added Audra Goscesnki.

Community members and leaders gathered on Long Plain Road on Tuesday to promote school bus safety.

“There are approximately a dozen bills before the legislature, not only before the transportation committee, but also before public safety, Homeland Security, and the judiciary committee,” said State Representative Natalie Blais.

The Goscenski’s have a 14-year-old and 11-year-old who attend school in town. They shared numerous videos with Western Mass News taken over the past two years, including one where you can see one car pass their daughter’s school bus as she was getting on. In another video, you can even see police pulling over another car that sped past the school bus.

“The scariest one for me was one time, my daughter was getting off the bus. She started to proceed across the road and a vehicle passed between me and my daughter,” Wes Goscesnki said. “My daughter and I were about 12-15 feet apart. She was in the middle of the road and the vehicle passed right in between us.”

Senator Jo Comerford and Representative Natalie Blais were also in attendance on Tuesday, trying to raise awareness about their push to introduce more legislation at the State House surrounding this issue.

“I really want to make progress on this incredibly concerning, very dangerous issue,” Senator Comerford said.

One local driving school also stressed the importance of abiding school bus laws that are already in place.

“We do teach adults and teenagers every day in drivers ed that they have to use extreme caution around school buses,” said Ja’Duke Driving School Director Juniper Homes. “They have to stay about 100 feet behind a school bus that is stopped, and whenever they see any lights flashing, yellow or red, and the stop arm is out, they do have to make a complete stop.”

The Goscenski’s told us that they are not alone in their push to slow drivers down at their road.

“Over the last couple of years, it’s been exponentially climbing, the number of violations, the number of people have passed the bus,” Wes Goscesnki said.

“Ten years ago, the woman who lives on the other side of the road had this happen very very frequently,” Audra Goscesnki added. “Sometimes, I wonder if people are just traveling just a bit too fast and they don’t think they can react fast enough to stop, but really, the bus drivers put their lights on far in advance on this road because they know how fast the traffic goes.”

Each of the new bills that has been introduced will now have a hearing before any votes are taken at the State House.