EndDD was proud to be a part of Loudoun County, VA’s public school’s (LCPS) transportation training to get its 1,000 school bus drivers and attendants off to a safe start for the 2014-2015 school year. Due to the rapid growth in the region, LCPS is the fastest growing school division in Virginia and one of the fastest growing public school districts in the United States, serving over 70,000 students in the 2013-2014 school year. EndDD founder, Joel Feldman presented to the drivers on Aug.18th and 19th, and was joined on the second day by the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) Safety Advocate, Nick Worrell.
Loudoun County Transportation has a great safety record. Alvin Hampton, Director of Transportation for Loudon County and Tammy Minkin and Claudia Scordellis of the Transportation Training Division, want to keep it that way and organized a great series of programs for the semi-annual conference.
The new Loudoun County Superintendent of Schools, Eric Williams, preceded the distracted driving presentation with his address and described the importance of bus drivers as he congratulated drivers for their years of dedicated service to students in Loudoun County. Superintendent Williams awarded the the two drivers with the longest service, 37 years, with a personally written poem, “What Do School Bus Drivers Do?”
Paraphrased, it included: find lost backpacks, wait those few extra seconds for a late student, extend the first “hello” in the morning when kids leave home without seeing mom or dad, wait until the student struggling under the weight of a science project, backpack and musical instrument can find a seat, and of course, make sure students arrive safely at school and then back home again at the end of the day.
Before proceeding with the EndDD presentation, Joel Feldman recounted his own memories of his school bus driver, Millie, of over 50 years ago. He was 8 or 9 years old when a cement mixing truck came over the center line of the roadway and into the opposing lane of travel occupied by their school bus. Millie quickly swerved to avoid a head-on collision. The school bus went into a ditch and up an embankment. With Millie’s skill as a driver, the bus avoided trees, utility poles and other hazards before coming safely to rest. Millie, who knew each child by name, then proceeded to to speak to each one individually, asking them if they were OK. Each student received a hug before Millie moved on to the next student.
In joining EndDD on day two, NTSB’s Nick Worrell discussed school bus accidents that the NTSB had investigated, all caused by a distracted driver. Nick encouraged attendees to reflect not only on how they can change their own driving behaviors but also those of others.
At the conclusion of the two day interactive event, Joel Feldman commented on what an engaged audience he had the pleasure of speaking with. “As skilled professional drivers, when bus drivers put away their cell phones and all the other distractions, people will notice and will also think about their own driving. Bus drivers can play a huge role in helping distracted driving to one day be considered socially unacceptable”, said Joel.