Mountain Home High School team creates bus safety PSA

March 16th, 2016
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Mountain Home High School team creates bus safety PSA

March 16, 2016

 It wasn't a problem on Daniel Jackson's radar.

That changed when a Mountain Home school official spoke to Jackson's class about an ongoing safety problem: Motorists attempting to pass school buses, even though the buses were flashing red warning lights to signify that students were getting on or off.


"Once you start looking for it, you see it happening everywhere," said Jackson, a junior at Mountain Home High School. "It's something that is very common."


Jackson and two classmates, Nick Stone and Mike House, wanted to create a public service announcement to raise awareness and combat the problem.


They're part of the Environmental and Spatial Technology, or EAST, initiative at the high school. Students in the project-based elective course are tasked with finding solutions to community issues.


The trio researched the traffic laws, came up with a plan to shoot and edit the video, and enlisted the help of the Baxter Regional Medical Center, Mountain Home Police Department, and Hackler Intermediate students.


"They wanted to visually create an impact," said teacher Jackie Meissner, who facilitates the student-led EAST initiative projects. "They wanted to let people know what the law is."


Motorists who ignore the school bus stop sign or flashing signals face jail time, community service, fines and the loss of their driving licenses.


"Worse case scenario, you hurt someone," Jackson said. "Then you have to live with that."


Stone, a junior, said the team decided to shoot the three-minute PSA from two different perspectives. One was focused on young students attempting to safely exit a bus and the other was a teen driver, with a passenger, ignoring signs that the school bus is stopped to unload students.


The video was edited to imply that the teen driver hit a child with his truck. In the next scene, the teen is being placed in the back of a police patrol car.


The PSA shows also shows a school bus and ambulance. House, a junior, said the participation of the police, school and hospital made a difference.


"They were really good to work with and were willing to come back when we shot a second time," House said.


The students said the project was a learning experience and they were surprised how many classmates thought it was OK to go around a school bus, even if the bus stop sign was extended or lights were flashing.


"We learned it was a common thing," Stone said. "It's a pretty serious thing to run a stop sign when a bus in unloading students."


The students spent several class periods shooting the video and nearly a month editing it before it was posted Feb. 22 on YouTube. It has been viewed nearly 1,500 times.


Meissner said the weeks of work paid off.


"They were really surprised how much conversation it has created among high school students," she said. "They have gone above and beyond the basics to make this a successful project."


State law


When a school bus is stopped and displaying alternating red lights — for the purpose of loading or unloading passengers — motorists approaching the bus from any direction must come to a complete stop prior to reaching the bus. The motorists are not allowed to attempt to pass the bus until the bus has finished loading or unloading passengers and is in motion again.


Under state law, violating the traffic code is a misdemeanor and could result in up to 90 days in jail, 400 hours of community service, a $1,000 fine and one year suspension of driving licenses. If the traffic violation results in a death, it could be a felony and additional penalties.


By Claudette Riley, The Baxter Bulletin