Coquitlam, Canada, December 30, 2008 --(PR.com
)-- Last fall, the dispatch office of the Escambia School District in received a call notifying staff that one of their buses had been involved in an accident at a railway crossing.
The railway employees present reported that the driver had tried to run the railway crossing stop-arm. If this story were true, the bus driver, an employee with an unblemished 17-year safety record faced charges and the end of her career.
According to the driver, however, she made the legal stop. The crossing arm was malfunctioning, and railway employees present at the time told her that it frequently malfunctioned. They instructed her to go ahead. The bus was subsequently hit by the descending crossing arm. There was no visible damage to the bus, so the driver left the scene.
Forty-five minutes later the Escambia District dispatch office received a call from the highway patrol office requesting that the bus and driver return to the scene of the accident. "Evidently, the railroad employees changed their story," says Eric Fritz, Escambia District’s Transportation Director.
Fritz and a couple managers attended the scene. "The railway workers said that our bus went into the opposite lane and tried to beat the crossing arm," says Fritiz. "They said that the oncoming traffic arm was already down, so she weaved her bus in between the two. There was a load of high school students on the bus (about 45)."
"We were really surprised." says Fritz. "Our driver had a very good record and background. She had an unblemished 17-year safe driving record. What we did at this point was pull up the bus’s Everyday Solutions GPS information using the state Trooper’s laptop. We used the Internet to access our school system and retrieve the information. What it was able to tell us is that she made the proper stop in the proper lane."
"When we got back to the office," says Fritz, "we cross referenced the GPS information with video from Seon’s digital video recorder (DVR). When we reviewed the video, the rear-facing video helped the most, and what we saw was that the driver had made a proper stop. There were no bells going off at the crossing, and we were able to see that there were cars in the oncoming lane passing the bus, which shows that what the railroad workers reported could not have been true. When the bus took off from its proper stop, you can clearly see the stop-arm coming down on the back-quarter of the bus, and all the kids turned towards the noise."
At this point, Escambia District staff made a copy of the video and turned it in as evidence to the highway patrol office. No charges were filed. Escambia District was then able to bill the railroad for damages to the bus.
"Normally, the railway employees’ story would have been credible because there were multiple witnesses," says Fritz, "but the cameras were able to show what actually happened. If our driver was charged and found guilty, she would have lost her commercial drivers license, and she would not have been allowed to be a bus operator anymore."
"From a management perspective, we were able to instantly know that our employee was telling the truth, says Fritz, and we were able to back her up and watch her back. It was great to be able to do that."