A new campaign to promote student safety around school buses comes from an unlikely place: a personal injury law firm.
St. Louis-based Schultz & Myers represented the family of Hunter Pitt, a 6-year-old boy in Missouri who was killed in 2011 when his school bus ran over him as he crossed in front.
Carolyn Hilliard, marketing director for Schultz & Myers, said that the case was “an emotional and arduous process,” and it prompted the firm to consider how it could help prevent incidents like this in the future.
Based on the firm’s research in litigating the Pitt case, Hilliard said, Schultz & Myers identified what everyone involved — the school bus driver, administrators and Hunter himself — could have done to help avoid the tragic outcome.
The result is a campaign called "Wait, Wait, Wait — 3 Ways to Keep Kids Safe.” The centerpiece of the effort is a simple graphic that conveys three “waits” for students to stay safe outside of the school bus:
1. Wait for permission to board. Stand on the sidewalk and do not approach the bus until the driver gives you the “okay.”
2. Wait for permission to cross. Walk at least 10 feet away and 10 feet in front of the bus. Make eye contact with the driver and wait until they wave you across.
3. Wait for permission to pick up a dropped item. Follow the 10x10 foot rule. If you dropped something, return to the door and ask the bus driver for permission to pick up your things.
“Unfortunately, we've seen the tragedies that result when bus safety takes a backseat to inattention,” said Joshua Myers, founding partner of Schultz & Myers. “But the dangers during loading and unloading can be virtually eliminated with these three simple safety rules.”
Schultz & Myers has been promoting the campaign on social media. Also, the partners travel at their own expense across Missouri to tell the Hunter Pitt story and to further educate drivers and administration about accident prevention.
Interestingly, this is not the only safety program that has stemmed from the death of Hunter Pitt. The boy’s parents worked with the Missouri Association for Pupil Transportation, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and other state organizations to create a video that explains the accident and emphasizes the importance of school bus drivers staying focused.