Frye Transportation Group owner D.J. Frye has taken to social media to share video of motorists illegally passing his school buses or otherwise engaging in other unsafe behavior that puts students at risk.
The school bus contractor serves 1,300 students who attend the Beaver County and Western Beaver County school districts northwest of Pittsburgh.
Frye, who at 34 is among the youngest company owners in the entire industry, began uploading video from his school buses to the company’s Facebook page to illustrate how bad the illegal passing problem has become.
In one video, a school bus begins to pull away from a stop on a two-way road when a car passes the school bus on the left side. The car then cuts the school bus off as it swerves back into the lane, narrowly avoiding the bus and another motorist in the opposite lane who had stopped for the bus.
Several other videos captured from inside the bus show the exasperated expressions of bus drivers reacting to motorists illegally passing as students are loading or unloading.
The idea developed over the summer during a safety meeting when staff discussed how to increase motorist awareness of school bus stops. Social media was mentioned as a way to assist in getting the word out that motorists need to follow to state law.
Impressed by the quality of video from the Rosco Vision Systems cameras installed throughout the fleet, Frye said the company received approval from local police to go ahead and post the videos on Facebook.
“Early on in one of our meetings, someone brought up concern about shaming people. But they don’t need to worry about that if they stop when they are supposed to. So we rolled it out there, and it’s been amazing how much exposure it has generated,” said Frye, citing support from as far away as Colorado.
“So many people have called and written letters, not just in our area,” Frye added. “It has taken a lot of pressure off of our local police department. We may have not caught you in the act (for a ticket to be issued), but it happens at least once a week where someone calls and says, ‘Please don’t put me on Facebook, it was a mistake. I thought the lights were yellow. I won’t do it again.’”
State law requires motorist to stop at least 10 feet away from the school bus with its stop arm extended and red lights flashing. Since Frye began posting videos, he said his bus drivers have noticed that local motorists are stopping about 150 feet away.
Motorists convicted of illegally passing a stopped school bus face a 60-day suspension of their driver’s licenses, five points on their driving record and a $250 fine.
Frye Transportation also participated for the second consecutive year in a local fall festival on Oct. 1 to promote School Bus Safety Week. More than 300 parents and children signed pledges to be safe drivers and safe riders. Frye Transportation also passed out School Bus Safety Week coloring books and introduced parents to their children’s school bus drivers.