A Minnesota school bus driver is facing more than two dozen charges for distracted driving and other traffic violations after video and audio surveillance recordings captured her using her smartphone to look up jokes while driving and other improper, potentially dangerous behavior.
KARE Channel 11 Minneapolis reported that authorities charged 39-year-old Brenda Cartsen of Blaine, Minnesota, with 15 traffic offenses stemming from distracted driving, including reckless and careless driving and child endangerment.
According to KARE, a parent of one of the middle school students aboard the bus contacted Ms. Carsten’s employer, Lorenz Bus Service Inc., about the driver’s distracted driving. The company then contacted the Minnesota State Patrol, which reviewed the onboard video and audio footage.
The footage begins with Ms. Carsten pulling out of the Westwood Middle School parking lot Feb. 6, noting she was not wearing her seatbelt.
Students in the back of the bus are sprawled across the seats and moving freely about the bus while it is in motion. The video shows Ms. Carsten reaching for her cell phone and manipulating the screen while driving with her right hand on the steering wheel, taking only brief moments to look at the road.
According to KARE, “Carsten then allegedly begins talking to the students about her personal life. The bus is seen traveling over the painted lines while Carsten can be seen texting, sometimes with both hands. She then lets the students use the public announcement system to read her text messages aloud to the entire bus.”
The complaint said that Ms. Carsten shared an “inappropriate life lesson” with her students that contained profanities. She also uses her phone to look up and engage the students in “your mama” jokes, as she continued to drive erratically with her eyes focused more on the phone than on the road.
Lorenz Bus Service fired Ms. Carsten after it received the distracted driving complaint. She has been summoned to appear in court June 6.