|Emotional DVD on Distracted Driving by Missouri State Association Presented at NAPT Summit|
|Written by Sylvia Arroyo|
|Wednesday, 31 October 2012 11:36|
A keynote presentation at this year’s NAPT Summit in Memphis, Tenn., on the dangers of distracted driving included an emotional video, which tells the story of one Missouri family’s tragedy but also is being used as a training tool for student transporters in the state.
The video, called “Driving Distracted…and then it happened,” shown at the Oct. 22 presentation, “The Dangers of Distracted Driving: The Important and Enduring Legacy of Hunter Pitt,” was produced by the Missouri Association for Pupil Transportation in cooperation with the Missouri School Boards Association and the family of Hunter Pitt, a 6-year-old Missouri boy who was run over and killed by his own school bus driver on Jan. 18, 2011, after getting off the bus at his home. The video is available for viewing through the MAPT website.
The 78-year-old male school bus driver pleaded guilty to second-degree involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to four years in prison. But the judge suspended the sentence, placed the driver on five year’s probation and permanently revoked his driving privileges. The Pitt family did not want to see him spend time behind bars.
The family, who attended the NAPT presentation, decided to share their story with the school bus industry to educate bus drivers and riders on the potential hazards so no other family would have to endure a loss like theirs.
“It happened in front of our house, and it ripped our family to the core. We lost it all in 4.4 seconds,” said Matthew Pitt, Hunter’s father. “It is our goal to make everybody else’s kids be safe when they are bused to school.”
Shirley Francis, executive director of the Missouri Association for Pupil Transportation added: “We wanted to give all schools a training DVD to support the association’s message of distracted driving.”
She noted that the state association currently is in the process of producing another DVD on the bus loading/unloading zone.
The video describes the events leading up to the fatal incident, and includes the 78-year-old bus driver who was asked to provide a testimony for the DVD. After driving a school bus for 15 years, he said he never had an accident or received a complaint. Then, on Jan. 11, 2011, he said the students on his route were arguing, which was unusual but remains a frequently cited source of distraction to school bus drivers nationwide. As he stopped in front of Hunter Pitt’s home to drop him off, the driver said his focus was on the rowdy students, and he began to drive away. After moving forward for about 30 yards, another student told the driver to stop, as he had ran over Hunter.
“I lost focus on what I was doing,” he said in the video. “When we get into a routine, we can lose focus on what we’re doing. Let drivers know, ‘Even though you’ve driven a bus for a long time, you never know what could happen’. Whether you drive one child or 50, pay attention to what you’re doing. That is your No. 1 focus.”
Kimberly Pitt, Hunter’s mother, provided an emotional plea to bus drivers in the video. She said she has to live with the fact that she wasn’t at home during the incident, and all she asks is for bus drivers to pay attention to their surroundings.
“Don’t let this fast-paced world that we live in distract you from what you’re doing,” she said.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 01 November 2012 10:25|