Subscribe Today

September 11, 2012  |   Comments (5)   |   Post a comment

Distracted driving: Can u c me now?

An official at the School District of Manatee County (Fla.) discusses the problem and the impact it has had on his school district. Since January 2012, the district has experienced nine accidents involving other vehicles running into its school buses.

by Don Ross


SHARING TOOLS   | Email Print RSS
Photo by Wikipedia user Ed Poor.

Photo by Wikipedia user Ed Poor.

In 2010, more than 3,000 people were killed and an estimated 416,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to U.S. government statistics.

The distracted driving problem appears to be having a significant impact on my school district.

Since January 2012, the School District of Manatee County (Fla.) has experienced nine accidents involving other vehicles running into our school buses. Some of these accidents happened when our buses were stopped at traffic controls — red lights and stop signs — and some happened as buses were in motion, moving 5 to 25 mph.

As if those nine accidents were not nine too many, there were also frightening accidents that took place while our buses were loading or unloading students.

All nine of the vehicles that hit our buses were totaled, and all nine drivers of those vehicles said that they did not see the bus.

It is inconceivable that a person could miss such a large object in front of them. Typical large buses are about nine feet wide and 40 feet long, and they are painted yellow and have bright lights and stop arms. So how could the other drivers not see the bus?

We have been very fortunate that no one was injured — neither drivers nor students — in these incidents. Thank God and our big, yellow school buses.

Don Ross, director of vehicle maintenance and transportation at the School District of Manatee County, says that distracted drivers are a large contributor to accidents involving school buses.
<p>Don Ross, director of vehicle maintenance and transportation at the School District of Manatee County, says that distracted drivers are a large contributor to accidents involving school buses.</p>

Daily distractions
Our lives continue to move at a faster pace. Things happen at home, at work or wherever we may be that continue to take our focus away from our surroundings.

We must all realize that distractions can have a major impact on our life or someone else’s life. If not today, then soon.

Our message to the public is to please give room when you see a yellow school bus. Obey the laws, put the cell phone down and know that our children, our future, are inside that bus.

At this time, there is no law in place in the state of Florida that prohibits the use of cell phones while driving. But 39 states and the District of Columbia ban text messaging for all drivers. Ten states and the District of Columbia prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.

Spreading the word
Local media have covered the issue by reporting on Distracted Driving Month, which was in April, and the accidents involving our buses. The message is out, both in paper and on TV news, and only time will tell if it has made an impact.

Through district in-service training, employees are being asked to spread the word by asking people in the community to be more aware of their surroundings — especially when following a big, yellow school bus.

One last note: On a day in 2011, we conducted a count of illegal drive-bys while our buses were loading or unloading students, and 148 drive-bys were noted. In a single day in 2012, more than 600 vehicles illegally drove by our buses.

Were those drivers distracted?

Can u c me now? We hope so.

Don Ross is director of vehicle maintenance and transportation at the School District of Manatee County in Bradenton, Fla. He is also a member of SBF’s editorial advisory board.


Post a Comment

Read more about: cell phones, school bus crash

What an impactful story. It's amazing that in all 9 accidents the driver did not see the huge bus. This is a great example of how dangerous distracted driving is. Yes, I agree, we need to continue to get the word out and increase public awareness. zautos has a really good graphic illustrating the dangers of distracted driving, check it out: http://zautos.com/distracted-driving-infographic-dangers-of-distracted-driving/

Susan    |    Nov 30, 2012 01:54 PM

As a driver I have often wondered if the yellow paint on my bus somehow turns the bus invisible......the number of nearmisses and deliberate driving by my activated reds increases each week...........

Elizabeth Sawning    |    Sep 26, 2012 04:22 PM

About two years ago, my bus driver and I were almost sideswiped by a woman who was playing with her phone in the lane to the left of our bus. She looked up and pulled away just in time.

E    |    Sep 24, 2012 05:59 PM

3-4 years ago, two of our buses were rear ended a week apart. One of our drivers suggested that we put a flashing light in the middle of the back of the buses. Our mechanics installed 4x6 amber lights on each bus. When the brakes are applied, the very bright light flashes and can be seen from a very far distance -- even in bad weather. Since that time, we've had one bus that was rear ended.

Debra    |    Sep 12, 2012 02:21 PM

Please dont text and drive!!!

jlee    |    Sep 12, 2012 11:43 AM

Post a comment





Related Stories

Premium Member

Get bus sales numbers, transportation statistics, bus specifications, industry survey results, bus loading and unloading fatality statistics and more in the School Bus Fleet Research Center. Become a premium member today!
Log in Button Register Button

Newsletter

Get breaking news, industry updates, product announcements and more.