Cars illegally passing stopped school buses have been a recurring problem in Billings for years now. A former school bus driver and crossing guard, Ken Carlson, has seen more than his share of reckless drivers.
“It’s just sad. People don’t care about running over kids,” Carlson said.
In his three years as a crossing guard, Carlson made it a point to document reckless drivers.
“People would pass me and I would write them up and turn them in to the police,” Carlson said.
He was a school bus driver for Billings Public Schools for seven years. As a driver, he would record the license plate numbers of other drivers who broke the law.
“On average, I think I wrote up 40 people a year,” Carlson said.
He’s even taken drivers to court.
“Three people my first year fought it, and I went to court as a witness, and I won all three cases,” said Carlson.
Carlson is fed up and frustrated that more hasn’t been done to stop these reckless drivers.
The Yellowstone County Sheriff’s office told MTN not one citation was issued in either 2020 or 2021 for failing to stop for a school bus.
The Billings Police Department only issued seven school bus-related citations in both 2020 and 2021.
Carlson says he did what he could to curb the problem, even going as far as placing homemade signs at the corner of St. Johns Avenue and 11th Street West.
“I had signs out here, slow signs at first and stop signs,” Carlson said.
He says that there’s only so much one person can do, and he’s worried that it’s only a matter of time until this problem turns deadly.
“If you hit a kid, kill him or not, it’s going to ruin your life,” Carlson said.