School Bus Fleet

November 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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8 S C H O O L B U S F L E E T • N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 4 Less than a month after Rodriguez's piece aired, three car accidents involv- ing students at their bus stops, one fa- tal, occurred in Johnson and Wake counties. WNCN reported these stories under the banner of #Brake4Buses, re- minding the audience that these were preventable tragedies. The news station's commitment to the cause is continuing. "Because WNCN's coverage went viral on social media, reaching over 25 million people, the decision to create a public service announcement [PSA] was made," Thomas said. The 30-second spot, titled "#Brake- 4Buses," focuses on drivers illegally passing school bus stop arms. "The PSA highlights the responsibili- ty of all parties involved," Graham add- ed. "Certainly motorists need to pay at- tention and obey the law. Students also have a responsibility to keep an eye on approaching vehicles when standing near or stepping into the roadway. We hope parents will use this as an oppor- tunity to have this important safety dis- cussion with their children." The message seems to be resonating: Thomas said that the spot was going national. At press time, at least fve of WNCN's sister stations across the coun- try had committed to airing the PSA. Lisa Hudson is a freelance writer based in Raleigh, N.C. industry news #Brake4Buses safety campaign reaches national audience (BY LISA HUDSON) RALEIGH, N.C. — A critical bus safety issue grabbed wide-reaching attention thanks to an in-depth media campaign developed by news outlet WNCN with the help of the North Carolina Depart- ment of Public Instruction (NCDPI). Students safely boarding and exit- ing school buses is a top concern in the industry, yet it may get minimal pub- lic attention during the year. But with WNCN's campaign created with help from NCDPI, the stop-arm safety con- versation is continuing. It began with a press release devel- oped by NCDPI's Lynda Fuller, infor- mation and communication special- ist, at the request of Derek Graham, NCDPI's section chief of transpor- tation services. The release includ- ed compelling statistics: In an annu- al one-day stop-arm violation count, NCDPI tracked over 3,000 motor- ists illegally passing stopped school buses. Since the 1998-99 school year, 13 students in North Carolina have lost their lives as a result of stop-arm running. In the last two school years alone, fve students have been killed. An unusual idea was proposed to enhance the story: allowing TV news crews on board buses to shoot footage. Dr. Jim Merrill, superintendent of the Wake County Public School System, was open to the idea, Fuller noted. Timing also helped, as North Car- olina has both traditional calendar schools and year-round schools. With active bus routes available, news crews had time to flm well ahead of the frst day of the traditional calendar. One of the crews that took part was from WNCN. What they flmed spoke volumes about safety: motorists violat- ing the stopped school bus laws. That compelling "3,000 a day" statistic from the NCDPI now had video evidence from local news investigators. Meanwhile, a WNCN producer had pitched the same stopped school bus safety idea to her team. "Carey Gough had seen her own child exit a school bus … and saw a clear safety issue that needed to be addressed immediately," recalled Robby Thomas, WNCN's director of marketing. Reporter Jonathan Rodriguez se- cured an interview with Rosabell Mar- tinez, aunt of Alyiah Morgan, a Samp- son County frst grader who died in 2013 after being hit by a truck as she exited the bus. Martinez gave an unfor- gettable message about the importance of not ignoring stop arms. Thomas then went on to organize social media and promotional efforts, coined "#Brake4Buses," a digital game plan to raise awareness for the issue. Rodriguez's report aired on Aug. 25, the lead story on the frst day of Wake County's traditional school calendar. It included interviews with Graham and Martinez, WNCN's footage of the mo- torists passing a stopped bus, and foot- age from school bus stop-arm cameras. A companion story was posted on- line, including a link to a WNCN-creat- ed interactive map showing the stop- arm violation tallies by county from the NCDPI's one-day count. At the same time, WNCN launched the #BrakeforBuses campaign so driv- ers, parents and viewers could discuss their concerns online. A media campaign that started in North Carolina is helping to raise awareness of the dangers of stop-arm running. Photo by Lois Cordes MORE ONLINE Here are links to videos and other online content mentioned in this article. • WNCN's stop-arm report on the frst day of school: • Interactive map showing North Carolina stop-arm violations by county: • #Brake4Buses public service announcement:

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