Subscribe Today

April 27, 2010  |   Comments (5)   |   Post a comment

Safety hotline keeps bus drivers in check


SHARING TOOLS   | Email Print RSS
In an innovative pilot program in North Carolina, a sticker inside school buses explains that drivers must wear their seat belts and refrain from talking on cell phones while driving. Below those state statutes is a number to call to report violations.

In an innovative pilot program in North Carolina, a sticker inside school buses explains that drivers must wear their seat belts and refrain from talking on cell phones while driving. Below those state statutes is a number to call to report violations.

When a North Carolina student noticed that her school bus driver wasn’t wearing a seat belt, she knew whom to call.

The reason? There is a sticker inside the bus explaining that drivers must wear their seat belts and refrain from talking on cell phones while driving. Below those state statutes is the note “Report violations to (919) 807-3580.”

Derek Graham, section chief of transportation services for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, told SBF that the idea of this pilot program is “to remind drivers to comply with the law and that students are watching them.”

Currently, there are four school districts participating in the program, which began about a year and a half ago. Calls to the hotline go to a voicemail, and Graham and his staff retrieve the messages periodically and send reports of violations to the districts.

In the aforementioned case, in January, the middle school student called the hotline and left a message that her driver wasn’t buckled up. The pupil noted the bus number but not the name of the school or district.

The morning after retrieving the call, Graham sent the student a text message thanking her and asking what school the bus served. That afternoon, the student texted back the name of the school. About a minute later, she sent Graham another text: “And she’s not wearing it again, NOW.”

Graham sent a report to the district’s transportation director, who uses a Blackberry and got the e-mail right away. The district has GPS on all of its buses and so was able to quickly identify the location of the bus in question. A supervisor was sent to confirm that the driver was indeed not wearing her seat belt, and the driver was disciplined.

Graham said that the hotline has not been inundated with calls since the pilot program began — about 50 last school year and 10 this year.

“The small number of calls indicates to me that our bus drivers are, for the most part, doing what they are supposed to,” he said. “But there are always some people — in all professions — that might try to take the easy way out sometimes.”

Graham emphasizes how, in the recent case, the technology used by the student, the state and the district helped to correct the situation.

“And we hope the word will spread,” he added, “so other drivers might think twice if they are tempted.”

 


Post a Comment

Read more about: cell phones, GPS, seat belts

Request More Info about this product/service/company


Robin - Read the story again and you'll note that they only check the messages occasionally then send out notices to the districts involved. The verification occured in one incident and it was by chance that text messages occured while the student was on the bus and someone was available to check it out. Labour laws are there to protect the driver against false claims and annonymous complaints cannot be used to discpline a worker in most situations. A worker has the right to contest the information provided by the person, and can/should question the complainants expertise, experience and any possible reason for a complaint, especially one that is an outright lie by an unhappy child/parent/motorist.

Jean-Claude    |    May 01, 2010 10:34 PM

I really like this idea! Drivers should always wear their seat belts! I am a School Bus Driver in Upstate NY. As a driver it is our responsibility not only to follow the law but show our students by example. I also like the fact a student can report this quietly and someone actually comes out to verify for themselves. This way the student does not have to fear repercussions from the driver, other students, or the school officials! Well done........

Robin    |    Apr 30, 2010 03:51 PM

Interesting but it seems like another idea that looks good on paper but doesn't work in the real world. I can see many false reports with a system like that. I know I would be quite resentful and angry if I was called into the office accused of something misunderstood by a child. Many things we do as school bus drivers aren't understood by adults/parents, simply because they don't have the knowledge. But now we are under the 'watchful' eyes of children?

Sue B    |    Apr 30, 2010 07:33 AM

While I think that this is a great idea, I hope there are steps taken to prevent students from making false claims against their drivers.

Tammi Ramos    |    Apr 29, 2010 05:49 AM

Looks like a good system. Now we need to develop a system to report the many students who don't follow the rules and never receive any punishment.

Mike Marincic    |    Apr 28, 2010 04:03 PM

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.