Bus Safety is Focus of Ride by the Rules Campaign

August 22, 2005
Ride by the Rules is Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) student education and public awareness campaign to communicate the responsibilities that students, parents, and the community share with school and transportation staff in ensuring that the bus ride to and from school is a safe and positive experience.

The Ride by the Rules campaign was initiated by Patricia B. O’Neill, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education, to address this need. Information and advice from a wide group of stakeholders have been an essential part of the planning of this campaign. Student perspectives were solicited to help tailor messages that would be well received by the intended audiences. Dr. Lynne Haverkos, program director, Behavioral Pediatrics and Health Promotion Research at the National Institutes of Health, provided expert advice, as did staff from the MCPS Department of Transportation, and the offices of Student Services, School Performance, and Curriculum and Instructional Programs.


Ride by the Rules is specifically designed to

• Raise awareness of students and parents about the importance of appropriate behavior on school buses.
• Communicate guidelines for safe and respectful behavior.
• Communicate guidelines on reporting incidents and infractions.
• Provide outreach to the community with seat belt and safe driving information.
• Extend learning on bus safety to counseling and classroom environments.

Components of the Ride by the Rules Campaign

Public Awareness
General public awareness will be enhanced by public service announcements produced by the MCPS Department of Communications and distributed to local television and radio outlets. PTA leadership and other community leaders will be provided with brochures, flyers, videos, and other materials. In addition, the Department of Transportation Web site has been redesigned to focus attention on safety issues.

Materials for Schools to Distribute
Schools will receive a number of materials, translated into multiple languages. Some are appropriate for display, while others are for use in meetings such as Back-to-School Night or for distribution to students and parents. They include:

• Poster (English and Spanish)
• Ride by the Rules: A Parent’s Role (handout in English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Amharic)
• Handout for students (separate versions for elementary and secondary students)
• Bookmark for students
• Riding the School Bus: What You Should Know (general information brochure in English and Spanish)

MCPS-Produced Videos
• Student videos on bus behavior and safety; versions for elementary, middle, and high school students will be sent to every school.

In addition, the following programs produced by MCPS will air on cable channel 34:
• Take Ten (English)
• Diez Minutos (Spanish)
• News Update (English)
• Education Matters (English)
• Public service announcement for adult and teen drivers on driving safely around school buses; also distributed to local TV stations (English and Spanish)
• Public service announcement for parents on student behavior on buses; also distributed to local TV stations (English and Spanish)

Cameras in School Buses
As a further deterrent to negative behavior, 200 buses that primarily serve middle school students will be equipped with cameras and tape-recording capability. There are plans for additional video-equipped buses over the next few years.

Teachers in elementary and secondary health education and physical education classes will use pertinent and grade-appropriate curriculum reference materials on school bus safety, sexual harassment, social responsibility, and related topics. Talking points promoting school bus safety will be provided to elementary classroom teachers.

The campaign will be supported through the Comprehensive School Counseling Program. When counselors at all school levels introduce themes such as making good decisions and being accountable for one’s behavior, bus safety examples will be integrated into the lessons. Counselors also will promote bus safety through schoolwide initiatives such as bullying prevention and character education, and may provide targeted intervention for students involved in bus incidents.

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