New School Bus Safety Campaign Takes Proactive Approach to Illegal Passing

School Safety Campaign implemented by Medina City Schools highlights illegal passing.

Rob Travis, the transportation director at Medina City Schools in Ohio, decided to launch a public service campaign, following the increased national awareness of school bus stop safety and the number of motorists illegally passing a school bus.

Travis and Amy Busy, Medina City Schools’ director of community relations, worked together to create an awareness through a public service campaign that they hope will spread nationally. The campaign, ‘When Big Yellow Stops, Everyone Stops’ was chosen for its universal theme and relevance to the nation. The campaign consists of signs, banners and videos that are designed to educate the community and create awareness.

“We wanted to do something that was a universal theme,” Travis said. “‘When Big Yellow Stops, Everyone Stops,’ is something that everybody can use, not just Medina. Because it is more than just a Medina problem.”

The duo started by contacting local law enforcement and writing a public service announcement. They wanted to get the word out as much as possible.

“We want to make a positive impact and be proactive instead of reactive,” Travis said. “It seems like everything we do in the industry, crossing cameras, writing up drivers—it’s all after the fact. We need to find a way to train the community and let them know, just what the risks are.”

This ongoing campaign will be administered year-round. The school district will continue to address different concerns and ways to bring awareness. Travis said it would be addressed at certain times throughout the school year: The beginning of the year, after Christmas break and then at the end of the year. While the concern is stop-arm violations, they will also focus on laws surrounding the school buses and the consequences.

“So far, we have done pretty good here in the state,” Travis said. “We have other districts that are taking signs, buying signs and putting them out. 90 miles away from us we have a district putting out 100 signs and starting the campaign in their district. And that’s what we want.”

While the campaign hasn’t spread to states other than Ohio, Travis said his goal is for every school district in the nation to adopt the campaign.

He stressed, “We want it to take off, like I said, it’s not just a Medina problem, it’s an issue in every school district across the county. An average of 15 million cars nationwide pass school buses, so it’s something that really needs to be addressed and the word gotten out, so that it can be adopted.”

Meanwhile, Medina City Schools have implemented several safety features on their school buses to improve school bus stop safety. Those improvements include auxiliary boarding lights and pedestrian crossing lights. Travis said at the beginning of the school year, they also added interior lights that come on automatically when the red lights turn on, to better illuminate the driver. They also have all of their drivers wear green neon gloves, so the students can better see the hand signals from the driver and know when it is safe to cross.

Also, this year, Travis said the district implemented a predestination light installed behind the bumper that illuminates the roadway from the left side. This light gives students a lighted path to cross the street. It also helps students be seen better when they are in the road, which is especially helpful in the mornings when it is dark.

Photo courtesy of Medina City Schools.

“When the bus stops to pick up students in Ohio, we give a hand signal to pick up students on the right side that board from the right and also from the left that are crossing the street,” Travis said. “Sometimes it is hard to see their hand, so based on that, we went to a neon glove, so that they are able to be seen. Then we made our interior lights come on automatically with the red lights, so that now the kids can also see into the vehicle and the driver is highly visible, the hand signals are visible. There is no question on the hand signals and when it is safe for children to cross the road.”

In the future, Travis and Busby said they are hoping to launch a website with school bus safety information that can be linked to every state. Currently, the campaign can be found on the National Association of Pupil Transportation website, the Ohio Association for Pupil Transportation website and Medina’s website and YouTube channel.

To become involved in the campaign and receive more information, call Rob Travis at 330-636-4360, Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.