Safety & Security

Texas District Pilots Extended School Bus Stop Arms

The illegal passing of stopped school buses continues to be a common problem. In order to address it, McKinney Independent School District in Texas is piloting the use of extended, six-foot long stop arms.

  • Published in News

Maryland Bill Targets School Bus Seat Belts

At a hefty price tag for local districts, a bill in the Maryland General Assembly would require all school buses registered in the state be equipped with either two-point lap or three-point, lap-shoulder seat belts by July 1, 2022.

  • Published in News

Random Act of Kindness Backfires

Mom always warned us about not taking candy from strangers. But, unfortunately, sometimes accepting someone’s nice gesture just isn’t worth it, either.

  • Published in Blogs

Roundup: A Bus Driver Saves the Day, a Student Averts Disaster and More

A keen eye and quick thinking helped a South Carolina school bus driver save the life of one of the youngsters aboard her bus. Driver Sacajawea Blassingame pulled to her usual stop to allow 8-year-old Brayden Burns to disembark the bus. While Burns collected himself to exit, Blassingame saw a mini-van speeding down the road. Blassingame told the child to hold off leaving the bus and saved his life within seconds of the minivan potentially hitting him. "I was getting off the bus, I was about to take a step in front and the car flew past at 72 miles an hour," said Burns. The vehicle roared by the bus and burned rubber through a series of stop signs. Blassingame’s heroic efforts are being hailed statewide, but the loudest applause is coming from the mother of the 8-year-old. “I'm just standing there watching. I hear a motor, look down toward the bridge, 'Are you going to stop?' is what's running through my head," said the mother.

  • Published in Blogs

N.J. School Bus Involved in Fatal Accident

A collision between a southern New Jersey school bus and a SUV has resulted in one death and four students injured, according to NJ.com. The driver the Toyota RAV4 was pronounced dead at the scene. The four children, who ranged from 11 to 17, were sent to an area hospital for treatment. 

Dog Owner Charged in School Bus Stop Attack

The owner of two pit bulls has been charged after two sisters were attacked at their Viriginia bus stop. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11-year-old Mariana Hernandez and 17-year-old Victoria Hernandez were attacked by the dogs while waiting for the school bus. Mariana was rushed to an area hospital and required surgery for injuries sustained during the attack.

Tenn. Texting Bill Advances

A bill that would prohibit school bus drivers from using mobile devices while driving passed the transportation committee of the Tennessee House on Tuesday, reported WBIR. The bill comes as a response to the tragic accident in Knoxville, Tennessee that killed two students and an instructional aide in 2014. An investigation revealed that the driver of one of the two buses involved in the collison was texting while driving. 

New Penalties for Illegal Passing Proposed

Under the statewide proposal called Gabby’s Law, fines across Florida could go up to $500 for the first offense and the driver could end up in jail. The consequences for a second offense go up to $1,000 in fines and six months jail time, WINK-NEWS reportedA newly released findings show that tens of thousands of drivers fail at stopping for school buses.

School Bus Driver Honored for Heroic Actions

A school bus driver in Olympia, Washington was honored Monday night for his actions in avoiding an accident, reported King 5. One morning last month, as James Bratager was driving 49 middle schoolers, an oncoming car veered into his lane. Bratager swerved and avoided a head-on crash, while also avoiding going into a ditch that runs parallel to the road. 

35-Mile Joyride Comes to an End

Three juveniles are behind bars after stealing a school bus and taking the vehicle on a three-hour tour around the Florida panhandle, NorthEscambia.com reports. The 35-mile escapade around Pensecola started after the trio found the school bus unlocked and the keys in the ignition.  

Multiple Injuries Reported in Bus Collision

Thirteen people have been hospitalized after an early morning collision between a school bus and a Philadelphia city bus, transported to the hospital after a  school bus collided with a Philadelphia public bus, WPVI-TV reports. According to authorities, no children were aboard the school bus and all the injuries appear to be minor.

Roundup: School Bus Crashes Spike

The initial scene in Boston was chaotic after a white sedan clipped a school bus full of children, parents scrambling to determine the level of damage done to the youngsters. Roughly 30 elementary students were on the bus when the accident occurred. “I was just playing with my toys in my backpack. Then when the bus crashed. I hit the seat,” said one student aboard the bus.

  • Published in Blogs

Fla. Boy Struck by School Bus While Riding Bike

A 7-year-old boy was hit by a school bus Tuesday afternoon as he rode his bicycle, reported News4Jax. According to reports, the school bus had just started back on its route after dropping off students. The boy then attempted to cross the street and entered the bus' path. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the incident. 

Fla. School Bus Driver on Probation for Texting Behind Wheel

A school bus driver in Nassau County, Florida, has been put on probation for the next year after being caught texting behind the wheel with children aboard, reported WJAX. "This egregious safety violation could result in your termination," warned David Buchanan, director of transportation, in a letter to the driver. "I know that this suspension and return to probationary status will serve as a wake-up call as to the seriousness of these infractions." 

SafeStop School Bus Tracking App Adding Four School Districts

CHICAGO — SafeStop, the original school bus tracking app, announced that four school districts in Illinois are launching the service. Parents and school officials in Lake Bluff Elementary School District 65, Lake Forest School District 67, Lake Forest Community High School District 115 and Deerfield School District 109 will now be able to safely and securely connect in real-time with their children’s school bus. The launch of these high profile Chicago area school districts, through a partnership with Olson Transportation, adds to the vehicles already utilizing the app in large public school systems and small private schools throughout the country, with more vehicles being added regularly.
 
“We are finding that as parents across North America learn more about SafeStop and the app’s features and benefits, they realize how it is a ‘must have’ app,” stated Patrick Gallagher, Director of Sales for SafeStop. “It allows parents to know where their child’s bus is and really provides them peace of mind while allowing for the convenience of not having to wait out in the cold too long as temperatures drop and the winter weather comes into play.”
 
Created in 2013, SafeStop is the fastest growing app of its kind that allows parents and school officials to securely track the school bus. The app includes a secure registration process, real-time map feature that displays the location of their child’s bus, provides estimated times of arrival at their bus stop, and provides parents with an alerts and messaging center. The messaging center serves as an extra channel of communication that alerts parents about important school news such as delays, closings, early dismissals or upcoming school events and eliminates the need for phone calls to schools or bus depots.
 
School officials are using the data provided by SafeStop to establish and review Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and provide ridership reports for their transportation system so they can compare, evaluate and optimize their on-time performance.
 
“School officials are raising their customer service level for parents by providing SafeStop, but also finding that the administration reports we provide are a great management tool to measure KPI’s and potentially lower the cost of their operations,” added Gallagher.
 
SafeStop is available in the U.S. and Canada. It is compatible with any transportation provider, any GPS hardware, and any routing software. The service provides flexible payment options and can be school funded or school subsidized with a small monthly fee to parents. Pro-rated launch prices and monthly plans are available so that schools and districts can start using the app anytime during the school year. Plans are also available for the 2016-17 school year.
 
Parents are encouraged to contact their school officials to request the installation of SafeStop. Private, charter and public schools along with colleges and universities interested in the service can contact a representative through the company’s website. To learn more about the SafeStop app and to contact a representative, please visit www.SafeStopApp.com.
 
About SafeStop
 
SafeStop, a product offered by SafeStop, Inc., is a powerful and secure application that connects parents and school administrators with the vehicles transporting their students. Created in 2013 by transportation industry experts, SafeStop app provides a secure registration process, real-time map feature, estimated arrival times, and an alerts and messaging center for its users. The app brings timely, accurate and valuable information to parents and school officials across North America. For more information, visit www.SafeStopApp.com.

NJ Law to Require Motion Sensors on New School Buses

On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a school bus safety bill that requires all new buses to be fitted with motions sensors to prevent tragedies such as the 2003 incident where a toddler was killed after being hit by a bus.

  • Published in News

The Internet of Things: School Bus Industry Takes Early Position

Compared to the consumer car segment, school bus connectivity is cruising in a slower lane, due to cost sensitivity and the need to justify public funding. Connected technologies are showing up in early adopter districts, school bus pilot programs and exploratory partnerships. But as the Internet of Things, or IoT, takes shapes in cities and on roads, the next five years could put school buses on a fast track into the future.

Roundup: A Bus Collides with a Buggy, a Bus Driver Assaulted and More

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it yield to a school bus. A minor collision between a Michigan school bus and a horse and buggy resulted in no injuries. Four students were aboard the bus that crashed into the horse-drawn buggy. The accident occurred after the bus rolled to a stop and then resumed moving again, pulling into the intersection at the same time as the buggy, which did not have a stop sign. The horse smacked into the front fender of the bus. The animal emerged unharmed. Both the bus and buggy sustained minor damage.

  • Published in Blogs

NHTSA to Explore School Bus Seat Belt Experiences

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has scheduled a meeting for Jan. 27 to draw lessons from representatives of the six states that currently have laws in place requiring seat belts on school buses.

  • Published in News

Check Up

Checking for students after a bus ride is an ongoing issue that garnered national attention in September after the tragic death of Hun Joon “Paul” Lee, a 19-year-old autistic student in Whittier, California. Lee died after being left behind on a school bus at the end of its route. He remained inside that bus for several hours during a heat wave until his body was discovered. As a result of this tragedy, many transportation operations, including the Pupil Transportation Cooperative, which operated the bus Lee rode, have re-evaluated and reformed their policies and procedures for driver post-trip inspections for students.

Roundup: A Community Unites to Support Driver, Illegal Passing on the Rise and More

A West Virginia community has rallied in support of a school bus driver battling against cancer. The driver was diagnosed in November, but learned the disease has spread to his stomach and lymph nodes. Those who know him describe him as a kind and considerate man who goes out of his way to help others. But now, the man is the one seeking support, as the longtime driver has started chemotherapy treatments. The only problem is that his paid sick time has run out. However, not all is lost. Co-workers and strangers have stepped in to assist by donating their own sick and vacation time, as well as money, to help in this battle. "It's not only this county," said one supporter. “We're getting donations from other counties as well, from other drivers. The principal at (Braxton County) middle school has donated time to him. So, it's not just drivers. It's county wide—statewide, I ought to say. It means a lot. It just shows you the kind of people we've got in Braxton County.”

  • Published in Blogs

NSTA, NAPT Address NHTSA Seat-Belt Position

In response to the announcement last year by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator Mark Rosekind that champions thee-point seat belts in all school buses, the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) once again partnered with the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) to address these statements and express joint concern.

  • Published in News

Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide

It is a well-known fact that school buses are considered “soft” targets vulnerable to armed adults and students bent on destruction. Mass murders have occurred inside school buildings, and school buses offer less protection for its occupants in terms of fewer options for escape. The run, hide, fight scenario is almost non-existent on a school bus if an active shooter gains access. Occupants are forced to go immediately to option three. Only the bus driver stands between the perpetrator and the innocent students, as was the case in January 2013 with Chuck Poland, just six weeks after Sandy Hook.

Seat Belts: The Laws of Physics Have Not Changed…

The question of seat belts on school buses is about as political a topic transportation professionals can engage in. Yet, many of the positions against seat belts on large school buses, namely the three-point variety, are based upon gut feelings and passions that are not necessarily rooted in facts.

  • Published in Blogs

2015: A Year in Review

The end of the year is often met with introspection on the past 12 months in an effort to determine how to approach the coming year. As 2015 becomes 2016, School Transportation News would like to reflect on the stories that received the highest viewership. The trends that appealed most to readers in 2015 centered on technology, bus accidents and fatalities, as more than half of the top 10 stories STN published in the last year focused on these topics in different ways. So, please, join us on a review of 2015. 

  • Published in News

Roundup: Lies and Scrooges, No More Snow Days and More

A Virginia bus driver who claimed her young daughter suffered terminal cancer to gain sympathy and more than $3,000 in cash and gifts from co-workers was sentenced to serve three months behind bars. The 26-year-old mother testified that she couldn’t justify the lie, and continuing to tell people that her daughter had leukemia and would soon die, “snowballed” out of control. To make amends, the woman has been volunteering for several months at a pediatric and palliative care and hospice program that provides specialized care and emotional support to families of children with life-threatening or fatal conditions. A Richmond prosecutor asserted in court that the lie inflicted great harm and was “mean and hurtful,” preying on the kindness of those trying to help. “She stole their friendships; she stole their hearts,” said the prosecutor.

  • Published in Blogs

Feds Announce New Regulations to Combat Driver Fatigue

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced the adoption of electronic logging devices (ELD) that will improve roadway safety through strengthened compliance with Hours of Service regulations that target fatigue behind the wheel.

  • Published in News

FAST Act to Fund Transportation Programs for Next Five Years

Congress agreed on the $305 billion FAST Act that reauthorizes federal highway transportation programs for the next five years, the National School Transportation Association calling it a “huge victory” for private school bus contractors.

  • Published in News

Nevada Highway Patrol to Rework Bus Policy

A Nevada Highway Patrol program that ensures the buses students ride to and from school are safe was found to have inadequate resources to inspect all vehicles, its semi-annual inspection reportedly overlooking more than 100 transportation methods that don’t fit the traditional definition of a bus.

  • Published in News

Registration Open, Contestant Packets Ready for Roadeo at TSD Conference

Registration for the 19th Annual National Special Needs Team Safety Roadeo, to be held March 12, 2016, in conjunction with the TSD Conference & Trade Show, is officially open, and contestant packets are ready for registered teams.

The contestant packets are available for download on the Roadeo page of www.tsdconference.com to prepare teams for this friendly competition. Registered teams must download the four PDF documents BEFORE the Roadeo. The documents are “2016 Cover Sheet for Contestant Packet,” “Team Study Guides,” 2016 National Roadeo Student Profiles and “2016 National Roadeo Test.”

The Roadeo consists of driver-attendant teams, and there is no prerequisite* to enter. Register your team today. Those who wish to volunteer as a judge for the Roadeo can also register

*For state champion teams and challengers, please check with your state association for more information on availability.

For more information on the Roadeo and the TSD Conference & Trade Show, visit www.tsdconference.com.

****************
19th Annual National Special Needs Team Safety Roadeo
March 12, 2016

TSD Conference & Trade Show
March 11-16, 2016
Louisville, Kentucky
www.tsdconference.com

Roundup: A School Bus Attendant Helps a Student Get a New Leg and More

A Baltimore school district is honoring a school bus attendant with the Recognition of Excellence award for helping a student who was suffering pain and walking problems from a prosthetic leg that kept falling off. The attendant contacted the transportation supervisor and asked if she could reach out to Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia about getting a new leg for the student. The supervisor agreed and the student got a new, all-expense-paid prosthetic piece, with a Hello Kitty theme, that she picked out herself from the specialized children's hospital. The 17-year-old student is overjoyed, commenting that it is much easier for her to ride the bus, walk and even dance in her church.

  • Published in Blogs

FMCSA Seeks Communciation Between MEs, Primary Physicians

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking public comment on a new, voluntary program that would allow participating certified medical examiners to communicate with primary healthcare professionals who prescribe medication to their commercial driver patients.

  • Published in News

MADD to Host National Day of Remembrance

Nationwide, 10,000 people are killed by people operating vehicles while intoxicated. Another 290,000 people are injured in impaired-driving crashes. On Dec. 3, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is holding a National Day of Remembrance to honor the injured and the dead left in the wake of these preventable incidents.

  • Published in News

Roundup: A Heroic Bus Driver Saves Kids from a Fire, A Mysterious Wreck and More

A Florida bus driver is being touted as a hero by parents and school officials after she safely emptied her bus of 35 students moments before the vehicle burst into flames. “It’s just my job. I do it every day. Everybody that was on the bus was a hero, not just me,” the driver said. The 18-year veteran was en route to the area elementary school when students began to complain of smoke. The driver immediately ordered everyone to evacuate. Just two miles from school, the students exited the bus in single file and fled to a safe distance, as they had practiced a few months prior to this incident. Five minutes after clearing the bus of everyone, the fire erupted. When fire crews arrived, the entire engine compartment at the back of the bus was ablaze and filled with smoke. “This bus driver was more than a bus driver, she’s really a guardian of our children. I can’t put enough emphasis on what an amazing job she did,” said fire rescue district chief.

  • Published in Blogs

NJ School Bus Motion Sensor Bill Advances

An education panel in the New Jersey state assembly advanced Bill A-1455 on Monday, which intends to increase school bus safety by detecting the presence of students in the bus’ danger zone.

  • Published in News

Driving Safety

In his 1997 book, “An Integrative Theory of Leadership,” social psychologist Dr. Martin Chemers writes that leaders are ultimately woven from the fibers of trust that a group has in him or her to accomplish the task at hand. He refers to such confidence and optimism as “mettle.”

Roundup: Restrained on Restraints, A Severe Case of Duty Dereliction and More

Local support for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recommendation that all school buses be equipped with seat belts has been gaining traction countrywide. The NHTSA safety belt push is a reversal from past recommendations. “We want everyone to be riding safely and securely at all times, whether they are in a car or on the school bus,” said one South Carolina program coordinator at Safe Kids Upstate. However, the seat belt requirement may be at odds with how districts want to go forward with the proposal. The South Carolina Dept. of Education, for instance, said they have no plans as of yet to install seat belts on buses. “We always follow state and federal laws and regulations pertaining to school bus safety. Our number one priority is to keep our children safe and we'll work with state lawmakers and buses that meet all the safety standards,” the district said in a statement. Administrators cite a number of reasons to go forward with the proposal, claiming that to retrofit existing school buses with belts would be costly, with a price tag of up to $20,000 per bus. Currently, school districts are not federally required to have safety belts on school buses that weight more than 10,000 pounds GVWR, but that could soon change. 

  • Published in Blogs

SafeStop School Bus Tracking App Adding Vehicles in Five States

CHARLESTON, S.C. - SafeStop, the original mobile app that connects parents and school officials to the vehicles transporting their students, has announced an additional 250 school vehicles in five states are launching service in November before the winter weather arrives. This launch will provide more than 30,000 parents the opportunity to utilize the app in both large public school systems and small private schools.

Thomas Built Buses Offering Factory-Installed MobileEye Collision Avoidance on C2

RICHMOND, Va. – Thomas Built Buses has teamed up with Mobileye Aftermarket, a division of Mobileye N.V., the global leader in the development of vision and data analysis for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and autonomous driving, and Pana-Pacific, to offer the Mobileye Aftermarket collision avoidance system as a factory-installed option for the popular Saf- T-Liner® C2 as part of its BusWiseTM suite of technologies.

Health and Student Safety Headline NASDPTS Conference

Concerns about health, student safety and the environment dominated the Monday sessions of the 2015 NASDPTS Conference with numerous recommendations from a variety of agencies to improve current standards and ensure the future remains bright.

  • Published in News

Roundup: A Stolen Bus Recovered, A Loved Bus Driver Murdered and More

Failing to grasp the definition of incognito, a Kentucky man was arrested after stealing a school bus and leading area police on a high-speed pursuit. Police were alerted to a school bus moving oddly and caught up to the vehicle on the roadway. One officer claimed that the bus crossed lanes of traffic and nearly slammed into his patrol car. No matter how many attempts to get the school bus to stop, it would not be pulled over. Authorities were eventually able to run the phony bus driver, David Farley, 19, off the road. Farley decided to add more charges to his already growing rap sheet by fleeing on foot. Once police captured him, his breath reeked of alcohol, leading police to determine he was drunk. Among the many charges filed against Farley was Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition and first-degree Fleeing or Evading Police. 

  • Published in Blogs

Promoting Respect on the School Bus

Bullying has been making headlines around the country, and it affects kids in and out of the classroom. When bullying occurs on the school bus, not only does it harm children, it can distract drivers. Gina Crump, a former school counselor and character education professional from Missouri, decided to take matters into her own hands to address these issues. As the creator of the ZoeBus, Crump educates students and bus drivers on things like respect and behavior management in order to reduce these behaviors.

  • Published in News

The Final Word on Seat Belts?

For months, the school bus industry has been abuzz about what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would do about three-point seat belts in school buses, and the verdict may soon be in as NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind takes the stage on Sunday at the 2015 NAPT Summit as a keynote speaker. Rosekind is expected to reveal the next course of action in this debate.

  • Published in News

Belted Interest

The fatal school bus crash in Houston in September has added kindling to the already hot debate about whether seat belts should be required in school buses.

Roundup: Dead Deer Disturbs Bus Stop, Disappearing Benefits and More

Student often claim that getting up early and waiting for the bus stinks. For kids who use one particular Oklahoma bus stop, this complaint can be taken literally after four deer carcasses were found dangling over a fence near a Tulsa County school bus drop off. As the carcasses have been showing up randomly over the last month, residents close to the macabre scene have described the sight is offensive and gross. The local game warden speculated the quartet of dead deer was likely poached, the hunter hanging the carcasses in the manner that they were found to display as "trophies." It is illegal to dispose of dead things this way, the game warden reported, and each carcass carries a $350 fine.

  • Published in Blogs

Q&A: Trish Reed Discusses IC Bus' Safety Features

Safety is one of the most important issues in the school bus industry. For School Bus Safety Week last week, we interviewed Trish Reed, vice president and general manager of IC Bus, to discuss some of the safety features available in the company’s school bus offerings.

  • Published in News

NTSB Unveils Sweeping Report on Tire Failure

Following a string of tire-related accidents that killed 12 and injured 42 in Florida, Louisiana, Arizona and California, the National Transportation Safety Board initiated a special investigation into the factors that contribute to tire failure that cause more than 500 deaths in the U.S. each year.

  • Published in News

Forecasting

For many school administrators, the decision to delay or close schools due to wet, snowy or frigid weather is one of the most important and difficult they have to make. In the majority of situations, this judgment is based on transportation issues. 

Nevada Police Ride School Buses, Ticket Illegal Passers

The Nevada Highway Patrol and the Clark County School District partnered last week to crack down on dangerous drivers, placing officers on area school buses to catch these hazardous motorists in the act of breaking the law.

  • Published in News

Three-Point Seat Belt Issue to Be Front and Center at NAPT Summit

Christopher Hart has been an NAPT Summit fixture for the past several years. The heir to Deborah Hersman as chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board in 2012, Hart first spoke to NAPT attendees and those attending the concurrent NASDPTS Annual Meeting while still serving as vice-chairman, namely about the need for lap-shoulder seat belts on school buses, as well as collision warning systems, lane departure systems and active braking and adaptive.

  • Published in News

Roundup: School Board Hops on Board, A Bus Driver Drives Recklessly

It should come as no surprise that school bus safety is a concern for all parents. To learn first hand the happenings on the local school buses, members of a West Virginia school board took rides to see what exactly is going on in and around these transport machines. Speaking to both parents and students, the board members gained insight to the recklessness of drivers when confronted with buses. Mostly, it comes down to speed and people just need to slow down, especially when children are present. They are the future, a grandparent pointed out. “There's been times where people just swerve off the road. People just need to slow down and respect the fact that all these little kids are getting off the bus instead of worrying about where they're going and passing the school bus with the stop signs out,” said one parent. The school board chairman believes that safety is first and foremost. “It's just to be sure that the children arrive safely and go home safely,” said the chairman. 

  • Published in Blogs

2015 School Bus Safety Week in Review

As National School Bus Safety Week (SBSW) wrapped up Friday, here's an overview of how school districts, industry associations and companies promoted and supported student safety on the yellow bus.

  • Published in News

STI Honors Safety Wall of Fame Inductees During National School Bus Safety Week

WALL, N.J., Oct. 19, 2015 — Student Transportation Inc. (STI) (TSX:STB) (NASDAQ:STB), North America's most trusted and largest independent provider of student transportation services, joins school districts across the United States and Canada in celebrating National School Bus Safety Week which begins today, Oct. 19. The National Association of Pupil Transportation's theme for this year's School Bus Safety Week is "Be Smart - Be Seen, I wait in a safe place!" STI is echoing this theme to its passengers and encouraging the children to always cross the street in front of the bus and to stay out of the Danger Zones.

"When you hear this year's Safety Week theme, it prompts the question of whose job it is to teach children about bus safety. And the short answer is, it's all of our jobs - the parents, the school, the bus drivers," states Don Weir, STI vice president of passenger safety and compliance. "That's why it is so critical that we collectively teach our kids safe habits for riding the bus, including knowing the Danger Zones, never running after a bus, and never crouching down to retrieve a dropped item near the bus. Be smart and be seen!"

STI's locations throughout North America will be holding safety meetings, demonstrations, and online training courses through its Learning Management System this week. Additionally, the company will be hosting its third annual STI Safety Wall of Fame awards banquet this week in Wall, New Jersey. The company will honor 13 of its employees who have displayed an outstanding commitment to safety throughout their career in student transportation. Senior executives and staff will join the recipients for the special celebration.

Employees were nominated by Managers at the company's locations. Nominees were held to the highest criteria of safety and performance, including accident-free service within their role, knowledge of company safety policies and procedures, reliability, exceptional performance of their duties, good character and community involvement. This year's inductees into the Safety Wall of Fame are:

Arthur Cooper: Trenton, NJ   Judith Fogel: Santa Maria, CA
Bilal Nosilla: Omaha, NE   Laurette Cillo: Merrimack, NH
Bobbi Gressley: Altoona, PA   Leon Gillam: Chariho, RI
Corina Perez: San Jose, CA   Marlene Ober: Mount Joy, PA
DeAndre Threatt: Milwaukee, WI   Patricia Young: Punxsutawney, PA
Dori Hatheway: London, Ontario   Victor Slape: Omaha, NE
Gwen Childs: Palmdale, CA    

For more information on STI's School Bus Safety Week efforts this week, please visit www.RideSTBus.com and follow the company on Twitter and Facebook.

About STI

Founded in 1997, Student Transportation Inc. (STI) is North America's most trusted provider of student transportation solutions, operating nearly 13,000 vehicles. STI's family of local companies delivers safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation, management, logistics and technology solutions to a wide range of customers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Services are delivered by drivers, dispatchers, maintenance technicians, terminal managers, information technology professionals and others, who are caring members of their local communities. For more information, please visit www.RideSTBus.com.

 

 

Man, Dog Saved from Fire by School Bus Drivers

In what could be only labeled as going beyond the call of duty, two Fairport Central School District bus drivers were in the right place at the right time to save a homeowner and his dog from a rapidly advancing fire.

  • Published in News

Roundup: New Anti-Passing Technology, Bus Fleet Fraud and More

Since a number of drivers cannot take the hint that when a bus comes to a complete stop with its lights flashing and its stop arm extended that means stop forward progress and do no pass, a Michigan district has teamed up with the state police for a pilot program that essentially spells it out for drivers what they are required to do. The new technology, in big, electronic letters on the back of the bus, reminds drivers that stopping isn’t an option. In other words, in the latest attempt to make it clear, this technology installs brighter and clearer signs, lighting up unmistakably at the eye level of drivers behind it. “It will actually have a written message on the back. It will say caution, stopping, and when the vehicle is stopped, it will say stop in text versus the red and yellow lights,” said a representative of the technology. Two school buses in the Lansing district will be installed with these signs. In a matter of weeks, state police will know if they work. If the program proves successful, proposals for legislation are being written to require all new school buses to purchase the signs.

  • Published in Blogs

Michigan Senator Introduces Illegal Passing Bill

Michigan state Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr. introduced a bill last month that seeks to amend the Michigan Vehicle code to increase penalties for motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses.

  • Published in News

Roundup: A Hero Cop, an Aggressive Aide Arrested and More

An off-duty NYPD officer saved the lives a bus driver and aide, dragging them from the wreckage of a burning school bus. The bus erupted in flames after a collision with a tractor-trailer along the Long Island Expressway. The officer witnessed the accident and pulled his vehicle to the shoulder of the highway when he saw the bus engulfed in flames and smoke. He pried open the door to the bus to find the driver pinned and the aide was nowhere to be found, lost in the smoke. The officer called to the aide, telling her walk toward the sound of his voice, and met the aide halfway down the aisle. After clearing the aide to safety, the officer wrenched the driver free through the driver’s side door, rescuing him from the fiery vehicle. 

  • Published in Blogs

Historic Flooding in South Carolina Shuts Down the State

In what officials are calling the worst flooding in a thousand years, large sections of South Carolina are still under water after Hurricane Joaquin swept through the state with devastating rainstorms that have killed at least 16 people and stranded hundreds of others.

  • Published in News

Extended Stop Arm Pilot Program Shows Fewer Violations

The counties of Cabell, Greenbrier and Kanawha in West Virginia recently completed a pilot program involving extended school bus stop arms in order to determine whether these showed a decrease in the illegal passing of stopped school buses.

  • Published in News

Roundup: Lawmakers Aim for Seat Belts, A Spider Causes a Collision

In response to the recent bus crash in Houston that killed two students, Texas lawmakers are again calling to make seal belts mandatory. An earlier state effort to provide students with lap belts and shoulder harnesses stalled due to a lack of funding. As of now, there is no federal rule that requires seat belts on school buses. Texas lawmakers have required school buses purchased after 2010 to include seat belts for each passenger, but this rule only applied if the state paid for the buses. The only school buses currently outfitted with seat belts in the Lone Star State are designed to transport special needs students. About 1.4 million pupils ride school buses in Texas each day, and most don't wear seat belts of any kind. The state initially promised $10 million in grants, with four districts receiving $400,000 to buy buses, but budget cuts ended the program. The Texas Association for Pupil Transportation has considered adopting a position to encourage, but not require, lap belts and shoulder harnesses on school buses. Currently, only six states require seat belts on large school buses.

  • Published in Blogs

NYAPT Pushes Again for Stop-Arm Camera Law Passage

The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) is preparing “the cleanest bill possible” for lawmakers to vote on when they return in January after the bill to install stop-arm cameras on school buses was returned to committee at the close of the last legislative session.

  • Published in News

Florida School Bus Driver Charged, Fired After Crashing into Pond

A Tampa Bay, Florida, school bus driver’s employment was terminated after the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office charged him with careless driving for speeding, losing control of the bus and crashing into a murky, alligator-filled pond. Neither the students nor the driver were seriously injured.

  • Published in News

It’s More Than a Yellow Bus, It’s the Ticket to Academic Achievement

As the leaves begin to change and fall is in the air, the world begins to slow down and settle in for shorter days and cooler nights. It’s around this same time the excitement of a new school year begins to wear off as students relax into the familiar routine of school. Gone are those first few weeks of arriving early the bus stop eager to get to school.

  • Published in Blogs

Roundup: Bus Driver Caught on Candid Camera

A school bus driver was fired after being caught on video blowing through a stop sign, the bus carrying young students from an area elementary school. A concerned parent captured the incident with a cell phone, posting the video to social media, claiming the driver was notorious for drifting through the stop on numerous occasions. Once posted, the video was viewed more than 65,000 times in 24 hours. The driver, who worked for First Student, was fired soon after the video went viral. The district originally hired the driver in 2013. She became a driver for First Student when bus services were outsourced to the company a year later.

  • Published in Blogs

NYSBCA Renews Call for Illegal Passing Legislation

The new school year is now in session in most, if not all, schools across the country. Many groups are issuing safety reminders for both students and motorists during this season. The New York School Bus Contractor’s Association is not only reminding drivers to use caution around school buses but also calling for harsher penalties for those who illegally pass stopped school buses.

  • Published in News

Roundup: A Wish Comes True, Driver Benefits and More

Four-year-old Vivian got her wish, to ride a school bus thanks to A Special Wish, an organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening diseases. Vivian has an unrepaired, complex form of heart disease that is currently being treated and she might not make it to kindergarten. Her family reported that whenever Vivian saw a school bus, she wanted to be aboard; however, her doctors thought it is too risky due to her health. Perseverance prevailed and Vivian got to ride on a school bus with her family, going to Chuck E. Cheese afterwards, where they had the entire place to themselves.

  • Published in Blogs

Roundup: Impeccable Driving Record, Dangerous Bus Stop

A South Carolina bus driver has been behind the wheel since 1980. In the 35 years transporting high school students to and from school, Earlene Scott, 56, has had an impeccable record, not one infraction to tarnish it, with every student that hops aboard his bus getting home safe. “Parents want their kids safe, just like I would with mine. They want their kids respected, and they want the driver to be trusted with their kids,” said Scott.

  • Published in Blogs

University of Michigan Researcher Named TSD Conference Advisor

The TSD Conference & Trade Show added a new member to its National Board of Advisors this week when Miriam Manary accepted an invitation presented by Tenured Faculty member Sue Englert Shutrump. Manary is the senior engineering research associate at University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute and has been a regular speaker at the TSD Conference over the 25 years of its existence.

Update: Arkansas Allows School Bus Lighting System

Despite a statement on the Gardian Angel LED website that its lighting system for the school bus loading zone had been "approved" for use in Arkansas, state director Mike Simmons told STN that Gardian Angel is only an "allowable option." 

  • Published in News

Zonar, Telematics Clearinghouse Provide Insurance Benefits

ATG Risk Solutions is providing customers of fleet GPS and telematics company Zonar Systems with the ability to tap into risk management and underwriting programs, as well as potential incentives based on the increased safety of their vehicles and drivers.

  • Published in News

Push to Raise Minimum Insurance Levels for Buses Still Alive

The push to increase liability insurance minimums on private commercial motor vehicles has regained momentum from a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, garnering support from a number of colleagues and restarting the debate over financial responsibility of transportation companies. 

  • Published in News

The Seat of the Problem

The annual summer run on the repair and replacement of school bus seat covers is in full swing and is stretching vendors to their limit to keep up with the orders. Some vendors say the trend actually increases their costs and may increase the risk of fire hazard on the bus during the year because of exposed foam.

Roundup: Sinkhole Swallows Bus, Toy Guns Riles Up Police

Students aboard a Maize South High School bus in Wichita, Kansas, were relieved to know that the collective, sinking feeling they all experienced was actually the bus they were on dipping into a sinkhole. The bus was parked near the school when its rear left tire began to sink through the pavement. While students were on the bus, no injuries were reported. Parents were alerted of the developing situation, which turned out to be a sinkhole that measured 7 feet by 6 feet, and administrators reported that routes would be delayed while a solution is formed.

  • Published in Blogs

Roundup: Deputy Ride-Alongs and a Bus Aide Assaults a Student with Water

Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, in an effort to break the pattern of cars rushing by stopped school buses, are placing deputies aboard certain buses along routes where they know drivers aren’t paying attention. Two years ago, 31 citations were issued to drivers passing school buses while children were getting on or off the bus. A year later, that number increased to 48 tickets. “There are certain roads, certain areas where motorists will turn a blind eye so to speak, and disregard the stop sign that’s attached to the school bus, and what we’re trying to do is combat that,” said Lt. Shane McDaniel.

  • Published in Blogs

Raising Autism Awareness on the School Bus

With one in 68 children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the condition is evidently on the rise across the country. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention, this current autism diagnosis rate represents a 30-percent increase since 2008. In order to raise ASD awareness and assistance, the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) and the Autism Society have partnered to provide school bus contractors the necessary training and information about the disorder.

  • Published in News

NHTSA Asked to Study School-Bus Seat, Seat-Belt Integrity

The School Bus Manufacturers Technical Council has petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine if the structural integrity of the school bus seating and restraint system needs to be changed, stating that it is in the best position to undertake an analysis of FMVSS No. 222. The request came in response to a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation regarding three-point belts for school buses.

  • Published in News

Operating in a World Beyond the Black and White

RENO, Nev. — Current society cannot simply be viewed through a black and white lens since reality resides inside an obscured gray zone. Tackling problems in this vague in between demands that modern-day transportation departments think outside the box to resolve issues encountered during operations.

  • Published in News

The Route to Resolving a Security Threat

RENO, Nev. — The priority of any first responder and community partner during a crisis is to minimize the loss of life and mitigate the pain of those affected.

  • Published in News

Roundup: NHTSA, Seat Belts and STN EXPO

Is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reopening the school bus lap/shoulder seat belt debate? Apparently so, judging from an all-day meeting and working group hosted by the agency on Thursday in Washington, D.C. A school bus official we spoke with immediately after the event said that NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind provided these parting words (we paraphrase): Sometime this fall the agency would have a plan in place regarding occupant restraint systems on school buses.

  • Published in Blogs

NHTSA to Discuss Seat Belts on School Buses

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to discuss the challenges and barriers preventing school districts from installing three-point seat belts on school buses later this month in Washington, D.C.

  • Published in News

Louisiana Governor Signs Bus Routes Bill Into Law

Last week, Louisiana governor and Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 695, which gives schools more flexibility when planning and implementing school bus routes while also amending HB 600/654 from the 2014 legislative session.

  • Published in News

Law Approves School Bus Cameras in Mobile, Ala.

Proponents of safe student transportation have won another victory in cracking down on reckless drivers after Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed legislation to permit cameras on Mobile County school buses.

  • Published in News

Round Up: Heroic Drivers Awarded, A Call for Higher Wages and More

Two school bus drivers for the Camas School District were honored for their acts of heroism in keeping students safe during two reckless driving incidents that could have turned deadly. In both instances, the pair prevented severe bodily harm to students through their quick judgment, astounding skill, and keen sense of impending danger. Both claimed they were just doing their jobs.  

  • Published in Blogs

Update: NY Lawmakers Step Up for Bus Safety

In order to safeguard New York children on school buses, state lawmakers have passed a series of bills that protect both students and bus drivers from unwanted passengers and hazardous motorists.  

  • Published in News

NY School Bus Contractor Association Awards Top Drivers

Three school bus drivers have the opportunity to participate in this summer’s International School Bus Driver Safety Competition in Minneapolis after winning their respective divisions at the 44th Annual New York State School Bus Safety Competition last month.

  • Published in News

CHP Concludes Investigation Into Fatal Motorcoach Crash

After a yearlong investigation, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) announced Friday that it is still unclear why a FedEx truck slammed into a motorcoach bus carrying high school students in Northern California last year. The collision killed 10 people, including five students.

  • Published in News

Roundup: A Stowaway Goat, a Biker Gang Bus Driver Fired and More

Shocking video captured an elementary school girl in Louisville, Kentucky, being dragged by her school bus. Images showed the girl getting dropped off and having her backpack getting stuck in the door. Police reported the girl, between the ages of five or six years old, was dragged for 100 feet, but estimates put the distance closer to 1000 feet. The victim was taken to the hospital for road rash injuries to her legs and is expected to make a full recovery. 


A school bus in Maryland found itself transporting more than just children as a goat tried to make itself a passenger. The wayward farm animal crossed the street and waited at a bus stop, jumping aboard the bus with embarking children. While it managed to get on the bus, the goat was not given a ride—it was quickly evicted from the vehicle. 


A school bus driver and former police officer was fired from his position at a San Antonio school district after being arrested for his part in the recent biker gang riot in Waco, Texas. Martin Lewis was among the 170 people arrested during the massive motorcycle gang brawl and shootout that resulted in nine bikers killed. The 62-year-old Lewis, an ex-vice detective, has been booked on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity.


The suspect in a school bus shooting last week was arrested during a traffic stop in Liberty County, Georgia. Sixteen-year-old Edgar Robles was treated for a self-inflicted gunshot wound at an area hospital and charged with two counts of attempted murder and one count of firing deadly missiles for the shooting that injured two teenage girls.

  • Published in Blogs

Watch for Additional Safety Threats at School Bus Stops

When the weather turns beautiful outside, we as school bus drivers see an increase of caretakers at the bus stops with the rider’s younger siblings in tow. This is a good time for the caretakers to greet the kids as they embark or disembark the school bus.

  • Published in Blogs

National Tire Safety Week Kicks off Sunday

Tires are the all-important connection between vehicle and road. National Tire Safety Week kicks off this month as a reminder that tire upkeep is vital component in driver, fleet and highway safety, as well as crucial in the continued success of a company.

  • Published in News

Failure to Stop

Some crimes are considered inexcusable. For the student transportation industry, the prevalence of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses that are loading or unloading students fits this bill.

Proposed Mandate for Crossing Control Arms Falls at NCST

DES MOINES – Delegates to the 16th National Congress of School Transportation efficiently moved through a number of updates to the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures Manual today during their first full day of work, narrowing rejecting a mandate for crossing control arms.

  • Published in News

Roundup: School Bus Shooting, High School Prank Leaves Students Stranded and More

Two female students were shot and wounded by a suspect who opened fire on a Florida school bus. Both victims were transported to area hospitals for treatment of non-threatening injuries. One victim, authorities reported, was shot in the face. The shooting occurred after an argument erupted over the death of another student that had happened previously. The two victims were not the intended targets. Police are looking for a 16-year-old boy they suspect opened fire.


A Washington State woman has been sentenced to prison for her hitting a student at a bus stop, who later had to have his right leg amputated. Justin Carey waited for his school bus to pick him up when Shaun Johnson drove off the road and struck Carey. Johnson later admitted she was not aware of hitting anyone. Johnson was found guilty of vehicular assault and possession of methamphetamine in the accident, and will serve three years in jail. Johnson will appeal the verdict. "It's hard to believe her remorse is real when she again still doesn't want to take accountability for her actions," said Carey's mother Janette Chumley.


In a senior prank gone awry, 66 school buses were disabled after unknown students deflated the tires. The effects of this stunt were far reaching, Arizona officials report, with several hundreds students stranded unable to get to school and a number of field trips canceled. The damage was also extensive, causing $3,500 worth of repairs. According to Lt. Brandon Bonney, authorities hesitate to call the incident a prank because the perpetrators face "extensive consequences." While there are no suspects, the perpetrators could face two counts of felony criminal damage in addition to charges for the disruption of school.


The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) is seeking a qualified individual for the position of Administrative Services Contracted Services. If interested, please email your resume to Leon Langley, NASDPTS president at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

  • Published in Blogs

Roundup: Raging Bull, Student Tries to Save School Van Driver and More

A police officer in Florida shot and killed a bull that was running loose near a school bus stop last week. The bull belonged to a local resident who has a farm. He reportedly charged at kids and trampled the officer. The officer then got up and shot the bull three times. The bull fell over, got up and started to run away. The officer followed the bull and notified dispatchers that he had fired shots, and requested medical help for himself because of an injury to his ankle.  The bull later turned around and charged him again, after which the office fired his weapon four more times, killing the animal.

“Attempts were made to stop the animal without violence and allow it to calm without success. I believe Officer Gibbs responded in a manner to protect the lives of all the children that were present and removed the threat,” said Brian Burkeen, Indian River Fire Rescue Assistant Chief.

  • Published in Blogs

Preventing School Bus Snagging and Dragging

School bus dragging incidents don't occur often, but when they do they can have tragic results. Earlier this year, a young girl was dragged more than 2,100 feet by her school bus after her backpack was caught in the loading doors.

Is Your Bus Shop a Breeding Ground for Workplace Violence?

As Paul was walking through the maintenance shop, he caught a glimpse of a silver bar flying through the air. He woke up several hours later in a hospital bed with a pounding headache. His doctor was standing near by. He told Paul that he had been hit in the head by something one of the other mechanics had thrown. The doctor also told Paul the headaches would continue for three or four weeks. Paul was off work for the entire four weeks.

  • Published in Blogs

Baltimore Riots Impact Student Transportation

School districts in the Baltimore area had to alter their transportation operations due to the unrest in the city this week related to protests that devolved into looting and clashes with police over the death of Freddie Gray.

  • Published in News

Louisiana Bill Removes Restrictions on School Bus Stops

A bill formally introduced in the Louisiana State Legislation seeks to amend a law passed last year that prohibits school bus stops from being located in such a way that students need to cross a road to or from the bus.

  • Published in News

Roundup: Books Deemed Dangerous on the School Bus, Bus Pranks and More

A school bus driver south of Montreal made headlines this week for banning his students from reading on the bus, arguing that it is too dangerous. Interestingly, the school board agreed with the driver, saying that because a bus makes frequent and sometimes sudden stops, "Any object, be it a book, a toy or electronic device can be a potential danger when a young child ... gets up to go and get it while the bus is in motion," the school board said in a statement.


A teenager’s prank on the school bus lead to a stop from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) last week. The CHP reported that a 911 caller reported seeing a school bus with a sign that read “Help Us” on the back window. Two units located the bus, which was traveling westbound on State Route 120, and stopped it in order to assess the welfare of the student riders, whom were heading to Lathrop, California to a track meet. The driver told the CHP that the students had put the sign up as a prank earlier in the trip, and that he had instructed them to take it down. While they did as they were told, the sign later went back up. A spokesperson for the students’ school said the responsible student was disciplined.


Jason Dixie, a school bus driver from Fort Wayne, Indiana made the cover of Parade magazine earlier this month for the annual “What People Earn” issue. Dixie had been trying to make the issue for about four years without luck. In those years, he had listed his occupation as “entertainer,” as he travels doing stand-up comedy every summer. But this year, his wife suggested he list his (almost) full-time occupation instead: school bus driver. The magazine’s editorial assistants corresponded with him and told him he was being considered, then strongly considered and ultimately accepted. “I’m on the front page? What a blessing,” he said.


The 10 Commandments for Pupil Transportation”, written by Louk Markham, a school bus driver and author.

I.      Thou shall not drive a bus without a current and appropriate CDL and endorsements as required.

II.     Thou shall conduct proper pre-trip, between trip, and post-trip inspections each day to ensure the safety of myself, my passengers and the other motorists with which I share the road.

III.    Thou shall not allow strangers on thy bus.

IV.    Thou shall prevent accidents from happening.

V.      Thou shall not use the mechanics’ names in vain.

VI.    Thou shall not covet thy co-worker’s students.

VII.   Thou shall not covet thy co-worker’s bus.

VIII.  Thou shall honor thy supervisor, students, and parents.  While we may not always agree with them, we must be respectful of the diversity of the individuals with which we are required to work each day.  They give us our daily bread.

IX.    Thou shall treat others as one would like others to treat oneself (refer to VIII above)

X.      Thou shall remember to keep work days for work and non-work days for family.  While our gainful employment is important to our careers and to pay our bills, our family will be with us for a lifetime.  As in precision driving, balance is important.

  • Published in Blogs

U.S. Capitol 'Bus-In' Targets Safety Issues

The National School Transportation Association held its annual Spring Bus-In on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and Wednesday, and members as well as industry partners attended nearly 200 congressional meetings on such topics as the federal Compliance, Safety and Accountability program and drug testing of commercial drivers.

  • Published in News

R.I. Bus Driver Texting Bill Passes House

The school bus is the safest way for children to get to school, yet this can be compromised if the bus driver is texting or focusing on another distraction. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, so it is fitting that the Rhode Island State House passed a bill Wednesday that aims to keep school bus drivers off their cell phones while behind the wheel.

  • Published in News

NY School Bus Safety Day Shares Info with Parents

The New York School Bus Contractors Association and Suffolk Region PTA sponsored a demonstration to help parents better understand the safety features on modern school buses and the training requirements of drivers.

  • Published in News

Special Needs Team Safety Roadeo Keynote Shares Safety Tips

Earl “Dub” Gillum, senior trooper with the Texas Highway Patrol delivered the keynote address Saturday night at the TSD Conference. His presentation, sponsored by Q’Straint Sure-Lok was titled “Think” and focused on what drivers can do to “arrive alive” at their destination every day.

  • Published in News

Maine Team Crowned Special Needs Roadeo Champs

FRISCO, Texas — Maine took home the top prize Saturday night at the 18th Annual National Special Needs Team Safety Roadeo, co-sponsored by School Transportation News and the National Association for Pupil Transportation. Drivers Lisa Gadway and Gregg McGoff from the Maine School Administrative District #49 earned first place for their performance in the competition.

  • Published in News

FMCSA App Provides Safety Data on Bus Companies

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced a new smartphone app called QCMobile that allows for more convenient access to currently available online safety performance information for interstate bus and truck companies.

  • Published in News

Paper Argues for Strategies to Prevent School Bus Dragging

It doesn't happen too often nationwide but often enough, especially of late, according to student transportation experts Kathy Furneaux and Peter Lawrence. "It" refers to "100-percent preventable" incidents where students become caught or snagged by the school bus service door during loading or unloading.

  • Published in News

New York: Illegal Bus Passing Declines But Still A Problem

The New York Association for Pupil Transportation estimated that more than 10,000 motorists illegally pass stopped school buses each day, according to figures reported during a one-day count held on Feb. 24. Twenty-six school districts and 1,298 school bus drivers from across the state participated in the survey.

  • Published in News

Tucson, Arizona District Investigates Bus Fires

Earlier this month, an empty bus from the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) caught fire. In a recent statement, the district emphasized a continuing investigation as well as the safety precautions it is taking in light of the incident.

  • Published in News

Sum of Its Parts

Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” but school bus folks might disagree. According to many leading school bus dealers, sales of replacement parts are especially robust precisely because school buses are only as strong and reliable as their components. Reliability begins to wane after a route bus has been on the road a dozen years, and bus dealers said aging fleets require continual repairs and upgrades to ensure safety.

School District Shines Light on Bus Stop Safety

A light bulb went on in the head of school bus driver Chris Haugen last fall when he came across small, flashing strobe lights with a simple clip: Students could wear these in the dark! In northeastern Minnesota, the days are short and the winters long and cold, with frequent snowstorms and fog moving in from Lake Superior.

  • Published in News

Federation Launches 27th School Transportation Security Campaign

QUEBEC CITY - The Bus Carriers Federation officially kicks off its 27th provincial campaign about security in school transportation, having for theme Did You See Me? Starting today, until February 13 inclusively, various actions will be implemented in all regions of the province to remind road users, students and parents to be vigilant in the presence of school buses. Let's remember that in Quebec, more than 523,000 students are transported by school buses in the morning and in the evening, travelling more than a million kilometres per day.

One Student Killed, One Critical After Accidents

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating two bus stop accidents that happened the same day, Jan. 29, at around the same time, resulting in the death of one student and critical injuries for another.

  • Published in News

Florida Bus Driver, Monitor Rescue Toddler Along Route

A quick-acting school bus driver and monitor ensured another tragedy didn't affect the community of Seminole County, Florida this week when the duo came to the aid of an unattended toddler seen running down the street.

  • Published in News

'Steffi Crosser' Recognized by Districts as Top Product

There are thousands of products and technologies designed to help school district administrators and transportation directors perform their jobs better, whether that means improving safety or increasing efficiency. To aid in their decision-making, District Administration magazine asks readers to vote and then publishes their top picks in the December issue. Several products geared toward student transportation made the Readers' Choice Top 100 Products of 2014, including the "Steffi Crosser" glove created by New York bus driver Victoria DeCarlo three years ago.

  • Published in News

Seat Belt FAQs

Why don’t all large school buses have seat belts like cars do?

Many parents are worried about the contradiction between the need to use seat belts and child passenger seats in automobiles and the lack of these safety devices in school buses, which don't require seat belts. One reason seat belts are not required on school buses is that the greater weight and mass of a school bus means that passengers are less vulnerable in a school bus than in an automobile, and they sit above the usual point of impact.

Non-Conforming Vans FAQs

What are the legal standards for vehicles used to transport students?

The federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act prohibits the sale to a school or the purchase by a school of a vehicle under the following circumstances:
1. The vehicle must be sold new;
2. The vehicle must have a capacity of greater than 10;
3. The vehicle must be used to transport pre-primary, primary or secondary students to and from school or school related activities; and
4. The vehicle must not meet federal school bus safety standards.

Why does the law only applies to new vehicles?

The reason is that when the school bus safety provision was added to the existing Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the only applicable vehicles covered by the original Act were those sold new. This made sense under the original Motor Vehicle Safety Act since it was not easy to mandate new safety standards retroactively. There is no question that as to the school bus safety features, this is a loophole in the federal law. However, in the course of investigating illegal van sales to schools, we found most involved sales of new vehicles.

Why does the law apply only to the seller and not the buyer?

Again, this is a feature of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which prohibits manufacturers and dealers from selling unsafe vehicles and does not make it illegal for a consumer to purchase such a vehicle. There is no question that this loophole has created an incentive by some schools to try to defeat the intent of the federal statute by trying to find a dealer willing to sell vans to schools. As the Strebler case indicated, however, the schools undertaking such a course of knowingly utilizing vehicles not meeting federal safety standards face potential liability under ordinary negligence theories unless their state specifically authorizes this use of such vehicles

How does the federal law affect states that allow school to use nonconforming vans?

Federal statute is the supreme law of the land and any sale by a dealer to a school is in violation of the federal statute, notwithstanding efforts by a state to make such transactions lawful. The primary effect of such statutes is to potentially defeat claims against schools utilizing these vehicles from grieving families in wrongful death cases or seriously injured children who have survived collisions in these unauthorized vehicles. States that don't comply can see a withholding of federal highway safety funds, similar to what happens when states don't enforce primary seat belt or drunk driving laws.

What is a pre-primary, primary, or secondary school?

The law has not been firmly established on this issue, but it is likely that any institution carrying the name "school", "academy", "kindergarten", or other similar name will probably be subject to the statute. Moreover, any program which has sequenced instruction or promotes itself as teaching certain basic skills will also likely be considered to be a school.

Does a statute include a school’s summer or camp programs?

Yes

Isn’t a van safer because it has seat belts while a school bus does not?

No. In fact, comparable sized small school buses are required to have seat belts because they weigh less than 10,000 pounds. School buses, as indicated above, have markedly superior per road mile safety records than all other vehicles, regardless of the seat belt issue. In fact, school buses are designed with a "compartmentalization" concept, which keeps children within and near their seats by placing the seats forward to them very close and with significant interior padding and other safety features.

What about day care centers, girl scout troops and programs for the elderly?

Congress, in its wisdom, created special protections on nonconforming vans especially for children on their way to and from school and transported by their school district. This law has not been extended to protect others, and many safety experts say that Congress should look to address this issue, particularly for children transported by day care centers.

Aren’t school buses significantly more expensive than vans?

The initial cost of a 15 seater school bus is approximately $8,000.00 to $9,000.00 greater than a comparable sized van. However, the school bus has a significantly longer road life and is less expensive to maintain. Recent calculations have determined that the per road mile cost of a 15 seater school bus is actually cheaper than a comparable sized van.

If parents can transport kids legally in these vans, why can’t schools?

Parents can transport kids on motorcycles to school or let them cross dangerous roads unsupervised, and no one would suggest schools can do this. Federal law expects higher levels of safety to be provided by school officials transporting school children to school or to school related activities.

Can school transportation help to enforce the law to protect child safety?

There are three options for school transportation personnel:
1. You can inform all school officials attempting to purchase these nonconforming vans that such a sale violates the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the seller is breaking the law. Moreover, the purchaser of such a vehicle faces potential liability under the common law of negligence should a child be injured or die in a collision in a nonconforming van. You may want to go on record about such unlawful sales because schools and school districts may be very reluctant to engage in such sales if they know that there is, in writing, concerns raised about these vehicles that might be disclosed later should some tragic event occur.
2. Any violation known can be reported confidentially to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The contact person is Mr. Allen Kam in the Office of General Counsel, whose number is 202-366- 5248. Based upon recent new attention to this area by NHTSA, it is likely that any report will be promptly investigated and sanctions taken against the dealer who sells such a vehicle.
3. You may advise families who have children injured or killed in such vehicles of their potential legal rights to pursue damage claims against the parties who participated in the sale or purchase of nonconforming vans. In the final analysis, the threat of liability may be the most effective deterrent against the use of nonconforming vans to transport school children.

Beyond Broken Windows

In safety, we often focus on policies and procedures, training and maintenance, while trying to employ some behavior-based safety ideas. However, sometimes it's the little things that can have the biggest impact. Non-safety fields such as crime reduction and psychology sometimes provide interesting ideas and concepts that have possible use in the area of safety management.

  • Published in Blogs

School Specialty Expands Into New Markets With Safety Training

GREENVILLE, Wis. — School Specialty, Inc. (OTCQB:SCOO) ("School Specialty" or "the Company"), a leading distributor of supplies, furniture and both supplemental and curriculum products to the education marketplace, today announced the launch of SSI GUARDIAN, a new curriculum-based security initiative designed to keep schools, and our children safe.

NYAPT Urges Re-training After Dragging Incidents

Three times is not always a charm but, rather, an alarm. This week saw a third case in Upstate New York of a student being dragged by a school bus for some distance before the driver noticed, all because the child's backpack got caught in the doors. Although no one was seriously injured, the New York Association for Pupil Transportation issued a call to its members to step up driver training.

  • Published in News

Proposed Bus Bills Focus on Safety, Alt Fuels

This legislative session has brought the introduction of a number of bills related to student transportation. These bills span across many different issues within the industry, including student safety and security, driver pay and alternative fuels.

  • Published in News

Four Teens Killed in Tragic Accidents

In recent weeks, four students lost their lives in school transportation–related accidents, three of them as pedestrians en route to their bus stops. Two high school students were killed within the first two weeks of the new year as they crossed busy roads to catch their school buses in the early morning.

  • Published in News

Former Officers Provide Tips to Curb Bus Violence

Though recent acts of terrorism here and abroad have many on edge, school security professionals maintain that the more likely threat to children’s safety, particularly aboard yellow buses, is posed by friends and neighbors. This is why school bus drivers need to be vigilant and prepared for these “homegrown” acts of violence from district students and their parents.

Rosekind Named New NHTSA Administrator

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced last week that Mark Rosekind is the new administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, after a nomination from President Barack Obama and a confirmation from the U.S. Senate.

  • Published in News

Peterson Manufacturing to Mark 70th Year In Business

GRANDVIEW, MO -- 2015 will mark Peterson Manufacturing Company’s 70th year of keeping “Solutions on the Move” in the vehicle safety lighting industry. Since its inception in 1945, the family-owned business has become the industry’s “Quiet Giant” -- a quarter-billion-dollar, multi-faceted corporation now providing thousands of lighting-related products for customers worldwide.

N.D. School Bus-Train Collision Kills Driver, Student

The first day of school after the holidays was a sad one for Larimore Public Schools #44 in the northeast part of North Dakota as a school bus driver and a high school student were killed and 12 other students were injured after a collision with a freight train.

  • Published in News

Dealing Effectively With Parents

Preventing problem behavior on your school bus is only part of the equation. In addition to dealing with student behavior, drivers also have to deal with the parents of students. Some parents are active in their child’s daily routine and are often at the bus stop communicating with the driver regularly.

  • Published in Blogs

Student Transporters Gather Coats for Kids

Playing Santa, school bus contractor First Student teamed up with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) to hold a coat drive to benefit district students in need. Just before the holidays nearly 150 CPS students, who otherwise may have gone without, received warm coats in a city known for freezing temperatures.

  • Published in News

Two Teenagers Struck at Bus Stops, One Fatally

While the outcomes of two separate pedestrian accidents at school bus stops this week were different, the circumstances and setting bore certain similarities. Both teens were hit by motorists who illegally passed their stopped school buses, and both accidents occurred in the dark pre-dawn hours.

  • Published in News

Maine Court Upholds Conviction for Violator

The sheer number of pedestrian accidents in school bus loading and unloading zones, some fatal, shows many motorists are either indifferent or uninformed about school bus stop laws. While those who are uninformed may contest their school bus passing tickets, a recent Maine Supreme Court ruling indicates that these violators will be held accountable.

  • Published in News

Contractor Unveils Winning Bus Safety Posters

National Express Corporation named the four students who won the company's 2014 Safety Poster Contest that highlights the diligent work performed each day by not only the company's school bus drivers but all those across North America. NEC is the owner of Durham School Services and Petermann in the U.S. as well as Stock Transportation in Canada.

  • Published in News

School Bus Drivers Honored for Heroism in Fires

Despite three serious school bus fires occuring in the past two weeks, two in Texas and one in Florida, there was no loss of life thanks to the widely reported heroism of the three bus drivers involved.

  • Published in News

Safe Routes Programs Spread to Rural Districts

The Region Nine Development Commission in Mankato, Minnesota received a 2014 Excellence in Regional Transportation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) for Safe Routes to School Planning in Rural Districts. Winners will be honored at the 2014 National Rural Transportation Peer Learning Conference, Dec. 3-5 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

  • Published in News

NSC Seeks Award Nominations to Recognize Collaboration in Occupational Injury Research

Itasca, Ill. – Occupational injury researchers that will be presenting at the 2015 National Occupational Injury Research Symposium in May are invited to apply for the Stakeholder Collaboration in Occupational Injury Research Award, sponsored by the National Safety Council. The award recognizes outstanding partnerships that will lead to the end of workplace fatalities and includes a $1,000 prize. 

Schools Near Ferguson Prepared for Jury Decision

 

Communities around Ferguson, Missouri, were on edge while awaiting a grand jury's decision on whether to indict a white police officer for shooting an unarmed black teenage boy in August. The announcement to not indict the officer was made at 8 p.m. Central time. On Tuesday schools around Ferguson decided to close after a night of violent protests that resulted in the burning and looting of many businesses.

  • Published in News

Girl Dies After Bus Stop Accident

On Wednesday, the family of Raven June Edwards, 8, announced she passed away two weeks after she was hit by a vehicle at her bus stop in Deatsville. She had been in critical condition at Children's Hospital of Alabama after suffering a fractured skull and subsequent swelling on her brain.

  • Published in News

Texas Bill May Prohibit Student Crossings to Bus Stops

Rep. Oscar Longoria introduced a bill designed to increase student safety at school bus stops, but some local school districts are worried it could drastically increase operating costs without a change to the state's transportation funding program.

  • Published in News

Transportation Chief Talks Pedestrian Safety

You might not expect to hear teen slang like "YOLO" roll off the tongues of many state directors of pupil transportation, yet the term took on a whole new meaning on the final day of the NASDPTS Conference last Wednesday. Todd Watkins, transportation director at Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, discussed his district’s unique safety awareness program, “YOLO: You Only Live Once.”

  • Published in News

We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident ...

Wikipedia tells us "A truism is a claim that is so obvious or self-evident as to be hardly worth mentioning". I think we would all agree that our work as K12 transportation professionals is one that is filled with truisms, concepts that are so obvious or self evident we might find ourselves taking them for granted.

  • Published in Blogs

Houston ISD Recognized for ‘Model’ Transportation

In recognition of recent innovative transportation initiatives, Houston Independent School District has been named a District of Distinction by District Administration magazine. The Transportation Department was lauded for programs meant to improve the operational efficiency and safety of its buses and drivers, including its safety-oriented driver training and “green” bus fleet.

  • Published in News

Ohio Girl Fatally Struck by Bus After School

A student in Youngstown, Ohio died yesterday after falling under the rear wheels of a school bus exiting her high school parking lot. This morning the Mahoning County Coroner’s Office confirmed the victim was Faith McCullough-Wooster, 14, a freshman at East High School and member of the volleyball team.

  • Published in News

Seon Names Winners of 2014 Anti-Bullying Coloring Contest

Seon announced the winners of this year’s anti-bullying “A Bully-Free Zone” coloring contest at the NAPT Conference & Trade Show, which concluded yesterday in St. Louis. Held during National Bullying Prevention Month in October, the competition was a huge success, the company said, receiving more than 500 entries from school districts across the U.S. and Canada.

  • Published in News

NTSB Chair Asks ‘To Belt or Not to Belt?’ at Conference

On Monday Christopher A. Hart, the acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), discussed "To Belt or Not to Belt: That is the Question" at the NAPT Summit and NASDPTS Annual Meeting in Kansas City, Missouri. He also touched on the dangers of distracted driving and sleep apnea among school bus drivers.

  • Published in News

TSD Conference: Workshops Now Online

Beginning this week and leading up to the 2015 TSD Conference, STN will be posting a series of “Conference Connection” news bites that will inform and update student transportation professionals on all aspects of the conference, trade show and the 18th Annual National Special Needs Team Safety Roadeo.

This week kicks off our Conference Connection series on stnonline.com. Be sure to check this Top Story section for future Conference Connection updates! 


We’d like to let you know that our redesigned website’s schedule-at-a-glance lists more than three-dozen topics designed to offer workable solutions and practical answers to your everyday challenges in special needs transportation.

Below is a sample of some can't-miss workshops: 

  • Basics of Special Needs Transportation
  • Autism Spectrum and Behaviors on the Bus
  • Essentials of Head Start Transportation 
  • Co-Piloting with Helicopter Parents for a Smooth Landing

Keep checking the TSD Conference website for more updates. Through social media, be sure to look for #ConferenceConnection posts on our Facebook page and Twitter account.

We hope to see you in Frisco, Texas!

TSD Conference
March 20-25, 2015
Embassy Suites Dallas-Frisco Hotel and Convention Center
tsdconference.com

Survey: Parents Want GPS Monitoring of Buses

The results of a new survey by Fleetmatics Group PLC show that parents would like more visibility into their children’s safety aboard the school bus, as well as more accountability for operators. Nearly nine in 10 parents responded they want to see closer GPS monitoring of buses and their drivers.

  • Published in News

Bus Driver Plans Rally to Welcome Back Students

On Monday, Marysville School District bus driver Josie Powers thanked the 700-plus community members who turned out to support high school students as they returned to the site of an Oct. 24 school shooting. A male freshman opened fire on his friends and cousins in the cafeteria, killing three girls and wounding two boys before turning the gun on himself.

  • Published in News

New Guidance on Bullying of Special Needs Students

While Bullying Awareness Month brought this issue to the center stage in October, many school and transportation administrators may not know that bullying is a civil rights issue for students with special needs. The U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently issued guidance to schools outlining ways to prevent bullying and protect students, including the nation’s 6.5 million students who have disabilities.

  • Published in News

Trends in School Bus Seating

Today’s marketplace is sending signals on what’s to come in the next generation of school bus seating technology. The biggest trends — cited by seating suppliers and a recent School Transportation News survey of transportation directors — point to the need for vandalism prevention, style enhancement, optimized capacity, weight reduction and restraints, especially as state laws address three-point seat belts on large buses.

Most Wanted

The growing problem of a school bus driver shortage threatens the transportation programs of many schools nationwide while also compromising student safety. Several news reports in recent weeks have shown videos of overcrowded school buses, from Texas to Virginia, which is a direct result of a lack of drivers to cover daily routes. Students are seen standing as well as sitting in the aisles and on each other’s laps. 

KSDE Cites 10 Student Deaths in Bus Zones; More Reported

Ten students were killed in the school bus loading and unloading zone during the 2013-2014 school year, according to a report released Wednesday by the Kansas State Department of Education. Five children were struck by a school bus and five by passing motorists.

  • Published in News

Security Symposium Speakers Urge Bus Driver Training

PHOENIX - School bus drivers should be trained to recognize abrupt personality changes and other aberrant behavior in their riders to help prevent the gun violence plaguing school campuses from spilling over onto school buses.

  • Published in News

NYAPT: Nearly 18K 'Fly-Bys' in One Day

Last week there were no reported student fatalities around school buses or bus stops during National School Bus Safety Week, which is welcome news after recent tragedies in Arkansas and Florida. To raise awareness of unsafe driving around school buses and bus stops, the New York Association for Pupil Transportation conducted a one-day survey of illegal bus passing on Oct. 21.

  • Published in News

Police Cite 'Human Error' in Bus Drill Accident

One month after police began investigating the death of a school bus driver, they have concluded that "human error" by a student caused the bus to run over Laura Zborowski during a routine safety drill.

  • Published in News

School Bus Safety, Teen Driver Safety Weeks Overlap

Even as National School Bus Safety Week kicked off, a new report confirms what the student transportation industry and traffic safety experts have known to be true for years: Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of teen fatalities.

  • Published in News

N.Y. School Bus Contractors Call for Bus Safety Legislation

In honor of School Bus Safety Week, from Oct. 20 to 24, the New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) is supporting tougher bus safety legislation. Robert Pape, the organization's president, noted that school buses are by far the safest way for a child to get to and from school — yet additional safeguards are needed.

  • Published in News

Bendix Supports the Efforts of Operation Safe Driver Through Fleet Support and Advanced Technology

ELYRIA, Ohio – Through its suite of active and passive safety systems, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems helps to enhance the safety of today’s commercial vehicles, yet it reinforces the point that no technology replaces the need for skilled drivers practicing safe driving habits on our highways. The company supports the efforts of Operation Safe Driver, taking place Oct. 19-25, to help fleets and owner-operators meet the ongoing challenges  of keeping highways safe for everyone.

Contractor Lauds Drivers for School Bus Safety Week

School bus contractor Student Transportation Inc. kicked off National School Bus Safety Week celebrations a few days early as it honored nearly a dozen employees with induction into the company's second annually Safety Wall of Fame.

  • Published in News

Stop-Arm Programs Raise Awareness During Bus Safety Week

Three children were struck and injured by passing vehicles by their bus stops in the past two weeks, including a Florida boy who died last week. As “National School Bus Safety Week” approaches, the call to raise awareness of student pedestrian safety is becoming more urgent.

  • Published in News

Legal Expert Explains Ruling on Boy Hurt in Bus Drill

A recent federal appeals court ruling has released the North Pocono School District in Pennsylvania from a lawsuit filed by the parents of a disabled boy who was hurt during a 2006 bus evacuation drill. The ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supported a decision by U.S. Middle District Judge Robert D. Mariani.

  • Published in News

Death of Teen Sparks ‘Lights on for Angel’ to Raise Awareness

This morning dozens of people in Port Charlotte turned on their outdoor lights in honor of Angel Garcia, a teenager who was hit by a truck last week while walking to his bus stop. The family of the 17-year-old made the decision to take the boy off life support Thursday afternoon, just days after the accident.

  • Published in News

Children’s Museum Features School Bus Play

The iconic yellow bus has represented educational opportunities for children and adults alike for generations. For younger kids not yet in school, it inspires curiosity about the school experience.

  • Published in News

NTSB Corrects Release on Oklahoma Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board updated an announcement made over the weekend that it had sent a "go-team" to Davis, Oklahoma to investigate a fatal bus crash late Friday involving a commercial charter bus owned by North Central Texas College and an 18-wheel tractor-trailer.

  • Published in News

Overcrowded School Buses Linked to Driver Shortage

Within the past two months, two student transportation issues have repeatedly surfaced in the news — overcrowded school buses and bus driver shortages — and it appears they are linked in certain areas from the Southwest to the East Coast.

  • Published in News

1 Fatality, 3 Injuries at Bus Stops in a Week

The life of an 11-year-old girl hung in the balance after she and another 13-year-old girl were hit by a truck at their school bus stop this morning in Methuen, Massachusetts. The child suffered serious head trauma, was transported to Lawrence General Hospital with life-threatening injuries, and then airlifted to Tufts Medical Center, where she is listed in critical condition, according to authorities.

  • Published in News

Investigation Ongoing in Death of Heroic Bus Driver

Yellow buses lined the road in Akron, Ohio, yesterday at the funeral of school bus driver Laura Zborowski, 51, who was fatally struck by her own bus after saving a student during a Sept. 16 evacuation drill. Yet, amid the public outpouring of support, more questions are arising about her death.

  • Published in News

ALI Partners with WSPS to Provide Critical Safety Training to Lift Users in Ontario

CORTLAND, N.Y. – The Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) has partnered with Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) of Toronto to help close a critical gap in safety education for the operators of vehicle lifts in Ontario. WSPS members now have access to Lifting It Right: 2014 Online Edition, the interactive, Web-based vehicle lift safety course developed by ALI and dealer services provider KPA.

Houston District Creates Realistic Training Drills

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) in Texas held their annual Safety Expo, a training program for more than 1,100 bus drivers and attendants, from Aug. 4-14. Participants learned about emergency evacuations, gang awareness, student management, first aid and green driving.

  • Published in News

Two Students Fatally Struck at School Bus Stops the Same Day

On Friday morning, two boys in different states were struck down by passing vehicles while waiting at their bus stops. Craig M. Little, Jr., 7, was hit by an SUV in Berkeley County, South Carolina, and later died, while Donald R. Tipton, 15, died at the scene after being hit by a DWI suspect in St. Clair, Missouri.

  • Published in News

School Bus Terrorism: Are We Now Less Prepared?

Recent events have caused many school, pupil transportation and public safety officials to re-examine the threat of school-related and school bus-related terrorism. While I am not predicting acts of terrorism, there are indicators that our risk for terrorist attacks on U.S. soil has increased.

  • Published in Blogs

Bus Driver’s Media Campaign Warns Against Illegal Passing

In his 17-year career as a bus driver, Chris Johnson of Chilton County Schools in Alabama is familiar with the statistics of illegal school bus passing. But he has only seen the violation occur twice —  once while subbing on another driver’s route and once on video. 

  • Published in News

Hubsmith Steps Down as Chief of Safe Routes to School

Deb Hubsmith announced she is not returning as executive director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, which she founded 10 years ago. She cited an ongoing battle with acute myeloid leukemia as the reason.

  • Published in News

21st Expo For The 21st Century

Unprecedented. Informative. Eye-opening. Attendees used these adjectives to describe a SWAT team demonstration during the 21st annual North American School Bus EXPO Conference that kicked off July 26 in Reno, Nevada. These same words exemplify the EXPO’s various educational and networking opportunities to arm student transportation professionals with the practical skills and support they need to succeed.

NHTSA Advisory Reminds Students and Motorists About School Bus Safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a safety advisory prompting drivers and students alike to make safety a priority near school buses and school zones now that schools across the country are coming back in session.

  • Published in News

School Bus Stop Lighting System Approved in Mississippi

This week Mississippi approved the statewide use of the Gardian Angel school bus lighting system, making it the second state in just a few months to give it the green light. The state of Wyoming also approved it last June.

  • Published in News

NHTSA NPRM Eyes Roof-Crush Standards for Motorcoaches

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a new rule to enhance rollover structural integrity of motorcoaches and "over-the-road" buses in the event of a crash to improve roof strength. The proposal comes on the heels of a new requirement implemented last year to require lap-shoulder seat belts on motorcoaches to improve passenger safety.

  • Published in News

SWAT Demonstration at STN EXPO a Success

At the STN EXPO on Sunday, attendees had the opportunity to watch a live demonstration with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and SWAT deputies showing effective responses to high-risk situations involving school buses, such as hijacking.

  • Published in News

Showing Restraint

A common theme runs through conversations about special needs transportation for Head Start through high school: Build on good community relationships that lead to successful mobility. The earlier the preparation, the easier it should be when it comes time to obtain funding or become compliant.

First Student Drivers Dominate Alberta Provincial School Bus Roadeo

CINCINNATI— First Student drivers had an impressive showing at the recent 34th Annual Alberta Provincial School Bus Roadeo held in Hinton, Alberta. Drivers from First Student locations across Alberta competed with each other and their counterparts from other companies. First Student drivers dominated the top ten of the Big Bus category and took first place honors in both the Big Bus and Small Bus categories. The Small Bus category was new this year to the Alberta competition. Additionally, the four-member Top Place Team included three First Student drivers.

Carrollton Bus Crash Documentary to Be Used as Lesson for DUI Offenders

Nearly a year after the public premiere of “Impact: After the Crash,” a documentary about the 1988 Carroll County, Ky., church bus crash caused by a drunk driver, the film is being incorporated into classes for people convicted of driving under the influence. Jason Epperson, the film’s director, participated in a DUI training program at Eastern Kentucky University with crash survivor Harold Dennis.

  • Published in News

South Carolina Stop-Arm Bill Camera Signed Into Law

On Monday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley lent her approval to a long-awaited bill allowing stop-arm cameras on school buses, SB 718, which was added as an amendment to HB 5014. The measure to permit video cameras to record motorists who illegally pass stopped school buses takes effect immediately.

  • Published in News

Florida District Approves Spending Up to $1 Million on Bus Cameras

The Palm Beach County School District voted on May 13 to enter into a contract with video surveillance provider AngelTrax to install digital cameras on every school bus by the start of the 2014-2015 school year. The school board will spend up to $1 million on cameras to better monitor the students who ride the district's 600 buses.

  • Published in News

May 2014

may14-cover
Why doesn't the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandate crossing gates at the front of school buses when they require stop arms on the side of these vehicles? Learn why and more in this month's digital edition.

Two Michigan Bills Aim to Mandate and Help Fund Seat Belts on School Buses

State Rep. Robert L. Kosowski last month introduced two bills to the Michigan House with the same goal — requiring seat belts on new school buses — and both remain in the House Transportation Committee. HB 5436, or “The Pupil Transportation Act,” would mandate that all new school buses provide a seat belt for every pupil, yet does not specify if it must be a lap belt or a lap/shoulder belt.

  • Published in News

Nominations Now Being Accepted for the NSC Rising Stars of Safety, Class of 2014

ITASCA, Ill. – The National Safety Council announced it is accepting nominations for the NSC Rising Stars of Safety, presented by DuPont Sustainable Solutions. Awarded annually, this honor recognizes individuals younger than 40 who stand out in the safety field by displaying creative and innovative ideas. Candidates must also have five or more years of direct safety experience and a foundation of safety management.

Sleep Apnea & Safe Driving

School bus accidents related to sleeping or dozing drivers happen. Lack of proper sleep can make it difficult for a driver to focus their eyes or react quickly, which may lead to accidents even if the driver doesn’t fall asleep.

It seems unlikely that school bus drivers would fall asleep while driving considering the continuous noise from the students on the bus, shorter trips, and frequent stops. However, sleep apnea is a physical condition that causes repeated sleep disturbances leading to poor sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness, loss of attention and alertness that can lead to accidents for a school bus driver. Drivers with Sleep Apnea may not be considered “fit for duty”. The condition should be diagnosed by a physician.

What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

The disturbance in sleep is caused by a narrowing or closure of the upper respiratory airway. This causes pauses in breathing that prevent air from flowing into or out of a sleeping person’s airways. Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, morning headaches and nausea, gasping or choking while sleeping, loss of sex drive/impotence, excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability and/or feelings of depression, disturbed sleep, concentration and memory problems, and frequent nighttime urination. Other factors that can contribute to this condition include a family history of sleep apnea, and smoking. Physical characteristics such as a small upper airway, overweight, recessed chin, small jaw, large overbite, and large neck size can also contribute to the condition. A medical exam by a physician is the best method to determine if the condition exists.

Can I still drive if I have sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is getting more attention as a medical condition that can lead to vehicle accidents with commercial drivers. Just last month the President signed into law a bill addressing sleep apnea and commercial drivers. The bill directs the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to initiate a rulemaking process to revise its medical guidance on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and other sleep disorders. Currently the physical exam for commercial drivers addresses sleep apnea under respiratory dysfunction part of the exam. Drivers are to report conditions such as sleep disorders, pauses in breathing while asleep, daytime sleepiness, loud snoring on the medical exam report and medical examiners are to address any respiratory dysfunction “that in any way is likely to interfere with the driver's ability to safely control and drive a commercial motor vehicle.” The individual is to be referred to a specialist for further evaluation and therapy. If the medical examiner determines the condition serious enough to interfere with safely operating the commercial motor vehicle a person can be declared “unfit for duty.”

Most cases of sleep apnea can be treated successfully, once diagnosed, and a driver can be medically qualified to drive provided they continue to properly treat the condition. For more information on sleep apnea, see the FMCSA website at www.FMCSA.dot.gov.

 

Article courtesy of Keystone Insurers Group

Blue Bird Technical Training Coming to STN EXPO

blue-bird-2014-tech-trainingAn adequate, accessible supply of parts is vital for a maintenance program, but so is technician training. Blue Bird will demonstrate this and more during special training sessions held in conjunction with the 21st annual STN EXPO in Reno, Nev., July 26-30.

  • Published in News

Alabama Bill Calls for Stop-Arm Video Cameras on School Buses

School districts and school bus companies could be allowed to install video cameras on school buses to capture motorists who illegally drive past the extended stop arm during student loading and unloading, according to a bill introduced in January. 

  • Published in News

ASBC Honors 2014 School Bus Champion at TSD Conference

Max and Robinson Award-smThe American School Bus Council recognized Lt. Ray Robinson of the Tennessee Highway Patrol with a School Bus Champion Award during a general session at the recently held Transporting Students with Disabilities & Preschoolers National Conference in Nashville, Tenn. Lt. Robinson is the first law enforcement official to receive this award. 

  • Published in News

Update: Wyoming Legislature Approves School Bus Video Cameras

Yesterday the state Senate gave final approval to a bill that would require Wyoming school districts to equip new school buses with cameras by the 2015-16 school year to target motorists who illegally pass stopped buses. After passing on a 19-11 vote, House Bill 5 was sent to Gov. Matt Mead for his consideration.

  • Published in News

Stop-Arm Violation Education and Enforcement

david-poagStudies show that surveillance cameras can help reduce crime in some cases. Police have had some success. But will stop-arm cameras and the enforcement of the stop-arm law reduce the amount of stop-arm violations? The jury is still out, but if you are considering adding the technology, this is one of the important questions that should be asked.

  • Published in Blogs

High Schooler Hit and Killed Crossing Busy Road to Catch Bus

On Friday a teenager was struck and killed as he crossed the road a few feet from his home to catch a school bus in Lancaster, Calif. Gage Rossi, 14, a freshman at East Side High School, said goodbye to his mother just seconds before he was run over at 6 a.m., when it was still pitch dark.

  • Published in News

First Grader Killed in Hit-and-Run by Bus Stop; Driver Nabbed

Shaud Wilson, 6, of Gentilly, La., was crossing the road to his school bus stop Monday morning when a motorist fatally struck him in front of his shocked mother and siblings. New Orleans police quickly launched a search for the driver and vehicle, and they located both five hours later.

  • Published in News

Athens-Clarke County Schools Partner with American Traffic Solutions For School Bus Stop Arm Safety Initiative

ATHENS-CLARKE COUNTY, Ga. — Clarke County School District has partnered with Athens-Clarke County and American Traffic Solutions (ATS) to deploy CrossingGuard®, ATS' new technology to help school districts address the growing problem of the illegal passing of school buses that are stopped and have lights flashing. Georgia leads the nation in school bus fatalities, with nearly a dozen children killed in the past five years. In response to this alarming trend, last year, the Georgia legislature approved the use of cameras to help enforce school bus stop-arm laws.

NASDPTS Posts Motorcoach Safety Resources on Website

The National Association for State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) posted several online resources discussed last month during a Bus Safety Roundtable sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

  • Published in News

A Year of Grief and Healing: Counseling Dale County Students

The saying goes, “time heals all wounds.” But that amount of time is different for everyone, and sometimes some wounds aren’t mended completely, though the individual has learned to deal with the lingering effects of a tragic, emotional event through counseling and therapy.

Student Safety Becomes Part of Debate on Later School Start Times

When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan shared his opinion about the benefits of later high-school start times earlier this fall, he brought national attention to the growing movement pushing for this change as a way to improve teens’ health and academic success.

  • Published in News

U.S. School Bus Stop Arm Legislation

A breakdown of states that have laws authorizing school districts to install video surveillance cameras on or near stop arm equipment to capture incidences of motorists who illegally pass school buses while loading or unloading students. See the color code, below, and view a summary of current state laws as compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

2016 stop arm laws

 Updated Jan. 7, 2016

 

 Orange = Law enacted 

Yellow = Individual school districts or municipalities decision

Blue = Legislation introduced or pending

Gray = No legislation to date

Red = Legislation introduced but did not pass

*Sources: STN, National Conference on State Legislatures

Washington County Launches School-Bus Stop Arm Enforcement Program

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Starting today, motorists who travel some of Washington County’s roads should be extra careful not to pass a stopped school bus when the red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, or they could receive a violation notice as part of the school system’s efforts to use technology to make the streets safer for school children. 

First Student Joins Effort to Urge Students to 'Stand Back from the Yellow and Black' for National School Bus Safety Week

CINCINNATI, Ohio —  School buses are the safest form of transportation for traveling to and from school. However, students face an increasing danger when entering and exiting the bus, which is why First Student is joining the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT) in raising awareness for National School Bus Safety Week, Oct. 21 to 25.

Student Transportation Inc. Promotes Safety Awareness During School Bus Safety Week

WALL, N.J. — Student Transportation Inc. ("STI") CA:STB +0.77% STB +1.28% , the premier, innovative provider of school bus transportation services in North America, joins school districts throughout the United States and Canada in recognizing the importance of National School Bus Safety Week taking place next week, October 21 - 25. This year's School Bus Safety Week theme is "Stand Back from the Yellow and Black," which is a reminder to students and motorists about the dangers that exist outside the school bus on a daily basis.

I Drive Safely Announces Winners of Its Teen Essay Contest

CARLSBAD, Calif. — I Drive Safely, the nation's leading online provider of driver education training, today announced the winners of its Teen Essay Contest, which was designed to encourage teens to use safe driving habits during the "100 Deadliest Days for Teen Drivers" from Memorial Day to Labor Day. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), seven of the top 10 deadliest driving days of the year occur in June, July and August.

Update: New School Bus Stop Law Takes Effect in Arizona

After 8-year-old girl Elizabeth Bates was hit and killed as she exited her school bus in 2008, her family went to work to prevent another similar tragedy. Thanks to their efforts, there is a new school bus safety law on the books, HB 2170, which requires all vehicles to stop for school buses on every road — including rural roads — and for bus drivers to engage their stop arms and flashing lights on these roads as well.

  • Published in News

Making School Bus Stops Safer — Before Another Tragedy

“Child hit near bus stop, family wants something to be done.” “Bus stop safety questioned.” “Cape councilman wants no school bus stop left in the dark.” These recent headlines are sure to draw more attention now that kids are preparing to board yellow buses and head back to school.

School Security Bills Survive Months After Fatal Shootings

As 2013 dawned, the nation continued to mourn the lives lost in the Sandy Hook school shooting, and soon after, mourned a heroic Alabama school bus driver who died protecting his students in late January. Legislators in every state rushed to draft bills designed to create new protections for American students in the wake of the murders, and in the Midland City, Ala., case, a lengthy hostage standoff. 

Review: The First 30 Seconds DVD, Safe Havens International

A young boy gets on your school bus, carrying a guitar case. He seems more quiet than usual as you say, “Hi” to him as he boards. He puts his head down and walks down the aisle as if he knows what to expect. As he passes a group of students in the back of the bus they jostle him, one of them tousles his hair, and they laugh at him. He sits down, his head bowed for a second, when suddenly he stands up with a pump shotgun.

Superintendents Discuss New School Security Measures

As superintendents across the nation finalize their 2013-2014 budgets, many are allocating more monies toward upgrading school security in light of the tragic shootings in Sandy Hook, Conn., and Midland City, Ala. School officials are reevaluating campus entry points and teaming with law enforcement on training and prevention, and some plan to post armed guards at every school site.

School Bus Flood Evacuation Programs

The damage from Superstorm Sandy sustained on the Eastern Seaboard during the fall of 2012 serves as the latest important reminder that school districts and school bus companies must be prepared for natural disasters. During a natural disaster, school facilities and vehicles are at risk for damage and require protection in the form of an action plan. In addition, school buses may be needed for evacuation and should be prepared at all times to be available.

This is why it's essential for transportation directors and fleet managers to develop a comprehensive School Bus Flood Evacuation Program that includes the following elements:

  1. Arrange designated alternate locations on higher ground where vehicles can be moved; you may need more than one location depending on your fleet size.
  2. Establish a method to determine when the plan must be implemented, such as monitoring the weather channel. Don't wait until floodwaters are touching tires to determine a trigger point to activate the plan.
  3. Designate key personnel and their responsibilities, specifying who is responsible for monitoring conditions, initiating the plan and communicating during and after the situation.
  4. Create a plan to move the buses to safety, ensuring you have a sufficient number of properly licensed drivers to get the vehicles out in time.
  5. Implement a method of communication to alert drivers when they are needed and practice the plan at least once a year. Regular communications may be out of service, so establish an alternative mode.
  6. Once you have a written plan, make sure it is reviewed and understood by everyone involved and share it with school district officials to show you are prepared for this type of emergency.

Source: National School Transportation Association

NHTSA Discusses School Bus Fire Research

Last month, STN contributor Art Gissendaner asked a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesperson to update the industry on what the federal government is doing in regards to researching school bus fires.

Survey: Teens in 'Denial' About Effects of Distracted Driving

Tiremaker Bridgestone Americas, Inc., published a report from a recently completed survey of more than 2,000 drivers ages 15 to 21 that indicates these novice vehicle operators feel they are not susceptible to distractions while behind the wheel.

  • Published in News

NHTSA Website Spotlights Dangers of Distracted Driving

Those who like to text or talk on their cell phone while driving simply aren’t getting the message that they are endangering lives — so the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration continues to raise awareness about distracted driving.

  • Published in News

NTSB Study Highlights Key Safety Issues in Growing Motorcoach Industry

Government officials released today the results from a six-month study on curbside motorcoach safety that highlight key issues related to this fast-growing segment of the transportation industry. National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman, New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez held a press conference in New York about the report.

  • Published in News

STN Webinar Stresses School Bus Driver’s Role in Protecting Youth from Abuse, Abduction

If it takes a village to raise and protect a child, then school bus drivers are important members of that village. During Tuesday’s webinar, “School Bus Drivers: Ensuring Total Child Safety,” presenter Dr. Duane Dobbert discussed the nature and behavioral patterns of “stranger child predators” and outlined the school bus driver’s role in identifying youth who are victims of child abuse.

  • Published in News

NHTSA: Be on the Lookout for Children Locked in Vehicles

With summer temperatures still high across most of the nation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is focusing on the dangers of heat stroke for children left in vehicles, a warning school bus operators should heed especially as the new school year begins.

  • Published in News

Newly Redesigned NYAPT Website Debuts before Convention

NYAPT_screenThe New York Association for Pupil Transportation has just launched a redesigned website greets visitors with bright photos and a bold “Welcome to NYAPT” emblazoned over the reminder that, “In NYS, over 2.3 million children ride a yellow school bus each day.”

 

  • Published in News

NASDPTS Releases Illegal Passing Survey Results

illegal-passer2The results of a new survey released by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services confirms what many in the industry already know — far too many motorists nationwide illegally pass stopped school buses.

New White Paper Published on Hazards of 15-Passenger Van Travel

While the feds and state governments have cracked down on non-conforming vans that have high rates of roll-over crashes, especially when these vehicles are used for school-related trips, new research breaks down the dynamics of these vehicles to illustrate how dangerous they can be.

  • Published in News

Northern California School Bus Driver Recounts Japan Tsunami Evacuation

The phone rang about, or maybe a little before, 3 in the morning. When I answered it, a voice said, “This is not a drill! This is not a drill! This is not a drill! There has been a large earthquake in Japan, and we are on alert. You don’t have to report right now, but be prepared.” The voice was Carlena Horn, our school bus trainer, dispatcher and second in command at the Del Norte County Unified School District transportation compound.

Virginia Governor Signs Bill to Increase School Bus Safety

Gov. Bob McDonnell signed four bills this spring designed to make school bus transportation even safer, including increasing penalties for motorists who illegally pass school buses stopped to load and unload students and allowing school districts to install stop arm video cameras to capture offenders.

  • Published in News

Congress Says SAFETEA-LU Reauthorization is Moving Forward

According to a joint statement from members of the Environment and Public Works Committee and Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, "great progress" has been made in the push to pass the reauthorization of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).

  • Published in News

Massachusetts Experiences Rare Tornadoes

Massachusetts residents were hit by an unexpected tornado last week that left three people dead and sent student transporters scrambling to provide service to students who were displaced by the storm.

  • Published in News

NASDPTS to Present Webinar on Student Evacuations

Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation are partnering with the National Association for State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services on a webinar that will outline how to evacuate students with disabilities from a school bus.

FMCSA, NHTSA Call on State DMVs to Target Non-Conforming Vans

The National Association for State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services applauded a letter sent earlier this month by FMCSA and NHTSA to motor vehicle registrars across the country that points out that these vehicles are inherently unsafe amid recent fatal crashes in Georgia and New York that involved 15-passenger vans.

FMCSA: CSA Program Hits the Streets

fleetThe Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officially launched its Compliance Safety Accountability program, or CSA 2010, that will analyze all safety-based violations from inspections and crash data to determine a commercial motor carrier's on-road performance.

NTSB Official Outlines Probable Cause of Missouri School Bus Crash, Possible Crash Avoidance Options

While a final crash report is not expected until at least next year, an official from the National Transportation Safety Board told members of the National Association for State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services in Portland last week that it was inexplicable why a school bus activity trip driver failed to react to slowing traffic in a construction zone on Instate 44 in Missouri just prior to a fatal four-vehicle pile-up in August.

OSHA Releases Top 10 Workplace Safety Citations

Employers failing to communicate hazardous chemicals in the work place once again was found by OSHA to be the leading safety citation in the general industry category, according to OSHA's Top 10 most frequently cited standards for 2010 that mirrored those released last year.

No Easy Answer for Reducing Bullying on School Buses

A representative from the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center said pupil transporters are presented with a host of challenges including high costs and increased liability when attempting to tackle the problem of student bullying and harassment on board school buses.

NAPT, First Student Remind About School Bus Safety Week

CINCINNATI -- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are 13 times safer than passenger cars and nearly 10 times safer than walking or biking to school. Unfortunately, cell phones, texting devices and mp3 players can distract students, presenting a risk as they walk to and board the school bus. First Student, the nation's leader in student transportation, joins the National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT) to recognize School Bus Safety Week, October 18-22, by reminding both students and motorists to eliminate distractions, be alert around school buses and remain in view of the school bus driver.

Fact Sheet Released on Upcoming CSA 2010 Rules

While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's new CSA 2010 safety initiative does not target public school district bus drivers, a new fact sheet released this month contains "Just the Facts" to paint a clearer picture of requirements and points of emphasis.

State of Nation's Highways Improves But at a Cost, Report Finds

School bus drivers in California and Hawaii have the most potholes with 25 percent of interstate pavement in poor condition. Alaska and Rhode Island have the bumpiest rural pavement, and Rhode Island has the nation's worst bridges. Those are some of the results of the 19th Annual Highway Report released by the Reason Foundation.

Massachusetts DOE Gives Schools Plan to Deter Bullying

After a mandate from a bill recently signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick, the Massachusetts Department of Education has created and distributed a “blueprint” for districts to help them develop some type of plan to deter student bullying in and arounds schools, including on the school bus.

NTSB Dispatched to Scene of Fatal Missouri School Bus Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board was on its way to Gray Summit, Mo., to investigate a crash in a highway construction zone involving two activity school buses, a bobtail tractor and another vehicle that killed a teenage girl and injured at least 50 others, many of them fellow bandmates of the deceased.

Lobbyists Attempt to Reform Distracted Driving Legislation

distractedWhile a number of states around the country are passing anti-texting legislation for school bus and passenger car drivers alike, Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm Seward Square Group is aiding in an attempt to sway federal legislators while they review legislation concerning the distracted driver debate.

First Student Buses Getting Full Suite of Zonar System Products

More than 60,000 school buses nationwide are being outfitted with state-of-the-art RFID inspection systems, GPS tracking and Web-based fleet operations and management applications to improve student safety. That was the announcement today from the largest school bus operator in North America and its technology provider.

Lack of Motor Carrier Oversight Concerns NTSB

The feds have cracked down on motorcoach safety over the last year, but National Transportation Safety Board Chair Deborah Hersman testified before Congress today that more must be done to ensure the vehicles and drivers are as safe as can be.

Missing Transportation Planner's Body Found, Suspect Charged

jessicalloydMedia reports confirmed that Ontario Provincial Police and local police are charging a local Air Force base commander with first-degree murder in the death of Jessica Elizabeth Lloyd, a transportation planner for the Tri-Board Student Transportation Services, who went missing in late January.

Making Vandalism Take a Backseat

Recent incidences demonstrate the need for school districts to be proactive in protecting property

The year started out bumpy for school districts in and around Oakland County, Michigan. As the news spread about school bus vandalism in Waterford Township, teenage vandals in five neighboring cities duplicated the crime — letting air out of hundreds of tires that grounded entire fleets and cancelled school.

Industry Still in Limbo on TSA Report

Final report will not be available until October

Although the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has put its final touches on the national public school bus fleet vulnerability threat assessment, it will be a several weeks before Congress and the school bus industry gets its hands on it. As part of the Implementing the Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, the TSA has 60 days from when the report was completed until it actually must be submitted to Congress.

STOP Does NOT Mean Proceed with Caution

Illegal passing of school buses has emerged as one of the major problems in school bus safety. Both Dateline/NBC and CNN’s Evening News Show examined the subject earlier this year in national broadcasts. Indeed, recent years have seen numerous studies and state-wide efforts to chronicle the number of pass bys, with commensurate efforts at enforcing laws that prohibits the practice.

Districts Ease School Zone Traffic Congestion

In conjunction with Contra Costa County and the cities of Danville and San Ramon, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District in California is working to formulate a traffic congestion relief program around its school zone. Among the mitigation measures to be implemented is an expanded school bus transportation system designed to ultimately cut down on the number of cars on local roadways. The initiative, which is funded by Measure J – a 25-year extension of a half-cent sales tax, will have additional school buses in operation in 2009, said Tai Williams, transportation services manager for Danville. The scope of the program and how many students it will serve is still in development.

In the Vortex

How can school bus operations best prepare for a tornado?

Part 2 of 2

When a tornado is forming, there is little time to make life and death decisions. Finding oneself in the path of a tornado is one of the worst situations a school bus driver could face. The best defense for employees is to become a weather watcher. Advance planning and quick response are the keys to surviving. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service provides an up- to-date resource for weather-related conditions:

Making it Work

New York school bus driver markets new FMVSS-compliant mirror for supplemental third loading/unloading stop arm

Gloria Buley first sketched her idea for a stop arm safety mirror while sitting in a 1999 New York State 40-hour safety course. Now, after seven years of pouring her time, energy and money into her invention, the 42-year-old mother of two teenage boys is closer to seeing her idea become a reality.

Being Prepared for the Unexpected

Roll overs, terrorists, natural disasters and weapons — school districts are staying ahead of the curve to keep students safe.

Part 1 of 2

Emergency situations can come in many forms: a tornado tearing a path through the middle of town, a gun-wielding criminal who sees the yellow bus and decides to use it as a getaway car, or an overturned school bus filled with children who have no idea what to do to get to safety.

New Direction for School Bus Watch Unveiled

The name Don L. Rondeau might not ring an immediate bell in the school bus community. But it resonates in most security and anti-terrorism circles, and he’s making a conscious effort to embrace the yellow bus. In his own words, “The nation’s most critical assets are our children.”

Federal School Bus Safety Week Resolution Passes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — By an overwhelming majority, the U.S. House of Representatives passed in July a resolution recognizing School Bus Safety Week. The measure was introduced last fall by Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-TN). All three major school bus associations — NAPT, NSTA and NASDPTS — supported the proposal and over the past several months urged their members to send letters of support to their individual congressmen.

Taking a Risk to Avoid Risk

Best-laid plans help school districts and transportation departments deal with the inevitable

School transportation professionals can’t see every incident on the horizon. But they can certainly arm themselves for uncertainty and stand prepared to deal with whatever comes their way.

Preventing a Deadly Chase

Nearly as many students were killed in 2005 chasing down buses along the driver’s side while the bus made a right-hand turn as were killed in onboard accidents, according to a study conducted by School Transportation News. Experts suggest future deaths might be prevented through the combined efforts of school districts, drivers and parents.

Getting Kids Safely to and from Prom

The following tips are from the non-profit National Limousine Association:

Ask your friends or family for a referral. The starting point for all personal services should be recommendations from friends or family. If they received courteous service from a polite chauffeur in a clean attractive vehicle then by all means, call for a reservation today!

Preventing the Possibility

How school districts can protect their students from solicitation and abduction to and from school

Numbers can be helpful and frightening all at once. Six hundred and three thousand. That figure represents the number of sexual offenders registered in the U.S. One hundred thousand. That number represents convicted offenders who are not registered; some of them are literally missing.

No Laughing Matter

School bus practical jokes have become a costly and sometimes dangerous problem for districts

Who hasn’t pulled a prank at some point in life? Whether it be a phoney phone call about Prince Albert being trapped in a can or throwing some eggs on a Halloween night 20 years ago, mischief and adolescence go hand in hand. Figures of authority — from principals to teachers to school bus drivers — have all had some type of practical joke played on them. But for the victims of some of these jokes, the resulting damage, whether it be to the vehicle or the individual, is not always something they can laugh off.

School Buses to the Rescue

Poway Unified School District Helps Locals Evacuate During Recent California Wildfires

POWAY, Calif. — Over 800 elderly and hospitalized residents of the San Diego County town were transported to shelters via the yellow school bus during the California wildfires this past October.

Outside Protects Inside

Products around the bus designed to get students to and from school safely

The well-being of riders inside the school bus is directly connected to the effectiveness of the features on the outside of the bus. With that in mind, school transportation officials and manufacturers put specific focus on the characteristics that define the safety of a school bus, meaning mirrors, decals and reflective applique, and LEDs.

States On Track With Meeting Sex Offender Requirements

Ever since the passing of Florida’s Jessica Lunsford Act in 2005 and the Federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act in 2006, states have been working to update their sex offender databases, track parolees with GPS ankle bracelets and inform the public of the whereabouts of offenders in their communities. But, like the implementation of any new program, the process is more easily said than done and can lead to more questions.

NTSB Calls for Improved Passive Railroad Crossing Safety

WASHINGTON , D.C. - The acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board testified before a House Transportation and Infrastructure's Subcommittee on Railroads that school bus accidents and fatalities will continue to occur at passive grade crossings as long as audible train warning systems remain inadequate.

New Mexico to Invest in GPS for All Buses

SANTA FE, N.M. — Parents may rest easier knowing that innovative vehicle tracking technology is protecting their children when they ride the school bus thanks to a proposal by Gov. Bill Richardson for a $2.6 million investment to install GPS in the state’s entire fleet.

The National Incident Management System: Communication and Connection

Schools will soon be required to follow a chain of communication that could help keep order during emergencies

Across the country, districts are preparing for the start of a new school year. They have to be prepared for new students and employees, new bus routes and even the unexpected. As part of the Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD), the Department of Homeland Security created the National Incident Management System (NIMS), a system that allows responders from different agencies to work in a collaborative effort when responding to emergencies, which could include natural disasters or acts of terrorism. Schools are now becoming more informed and interwoven into their community’s emergency response teams as a result.

A Sobering Simulation

NAPT exercise brings home importance of emergency responders to school bus events

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Train vs. school bus. At least dozen presumed dead. Scores more seriously injured. Multiple fire companies en route. Such is a synopsis of an emergency call from the scene of a catastrophic collision outside of Kansas City. Fortunately it was all an act.

Federal Motorcoach Safety Bill Full of Surprises

Bill calls for seat belts, new standards for window glazing and roof strength

Following in an oddly parallel step with school buses, the motorcoach industry is currently debating the strengths and weaknesses of a recently introduced piece of legislation that calls for seat belts, rollover and interior fire protection, and updating policies concerning window glazing.

NTSB Motorcoach Guidance Could Parallel Common Insufficiencies

Recent Mexican Hat crash recommendation letters include possible advice for school bus industry

About a month after determining that lack of sleep and high speeds were the main causes of the Mexican Hat, Utah, motorcoach crash on Jan. 6, 2008 that killed nine passengers and injured 43 others, the National Transportation Safety Board issued safety recommendation letters to all the parties either directly or indirectly involved in the crash. The letters addressed numerous points that all led to one main conclusion: preparation equals prevention.

Pennsylvania Court Raises the Bar in Harness Case

In dramatic fashion, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has denied the Bucks County Intermediate Unit No. 22's (BCIU) Motion to Dismiss in Susavage v. Bucks Countÿ Schools Intermediate Unit No. 22 decided on Janaury 25, 2002.( 36 IDELR 32) This means the case can move forward to trial on the issues.

Trying Figures

Independent Research Highlights Challenges to the National Loading and Unloading Survey

A year-long School Transportation News study of national and local newspaper headlines found 21 incidents where school bus riders were killed outside the school bus, 14 more than the seven reported in the 2006-2007 National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey.

Change Management

Your staff has been complaining about the arrival of “Big Brother.” Your announcement about the GPS on the buses this year was not met with technological enthusiasm.

NHTSA Looks to Bus Emergency Exits with NPRM

exitUpdate: Right before the start of the new year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that responded to a petition from the School Bus Manufacturers’ Technical Council concerning school bus emergency exits.

Getting the LED In

Drive no further than your local elementary school to be flashed with the latest in safety lighting: LEDs.

The technology has been around for more than 100 years, and today it can be seen in everything from building displays to televisions. And more and more school districts across the United States and Canada are turning to LEDs to light the way for children and motorists alike to navigate busy school zones. They flash on stop signs and speed limit markers, and they even automatically detect the presence of pedestrians and light up crosswalks.

LAUSD Honors Safe Drivers

LOS ANGELES — In the 30 years that Clarence Hutchison has been the transportation services manager for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), he cannot remember when they have not held annual awards to honor their safest drivers. “We used to belong to the National Safety Council, but that became too expensive to maintain. So we continued on our own, keeping the basic premise of preventable and non-preventable accidents,” said Hutchison.

Replanting the Seeds of Success

In the two years since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, efforts to rebuild have been aided by a combination of community strength and strong leadership. School districts in these affected areas have pulled together to rejuvenate their buildings, programs and morale.

John Walsh: Parent and Protector

On July 27, 1981, John Walsh lost an irreplaceable part of himself — his son Adam. A little more than two weeks after Adam was abducted, Walsh learned his son had been murdered. During this life-changing experience, Walsh discovered a sorry truth about the world we live in and a name for those responsible for some of the most gruesome crimes that can be committed against the youngest members of our society — pedophiles.

School Buses Still Safer than Safe Routes, Reports Show

saferoutesWhile state and federal programs continue to advocate students walking and biking to school to achieve physical fitness and mitigate traffic congestion and resulting pollution, the children who utilize these modes of transportation are open to significantly more injuries and fatalities than if they rode the school bus.

A ‘John Wayne Dude’

STN EXPO Keynote Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré calls it like he sees it regarding the role of school buses in local, national emergency preparedness.

GPS Installations: Where They Are and Where They’re Going

They say you have to spend money to make money. But, sometimes, you have to spend money to save money. For school districts and contractors this can be a lot easier said than done. But in a time of quickly rising fuel prices and mounting fears concerning school bus vulnerability, many are finding ways to keep their buses and students accounted for and their fuel-related costs at as much of a minimum as possible.

North Florida CART Performs Exercise to Earn Federal Certification

The North Florida Child Abduction Response Team (CART) held a full-scale exercise in October that could earn it the first national certification of any CART team in the country. More than 100 participants and observers from local, state and federal partner agencies came together for the exercise while a certification team from Fox Valley Technical College conducted an assessment of the team’s performance.

Not So Fast

School transportation is safe, but surveys don’t tell the whole story.

Moments after unloading, a 13-year-old girl is playing near the back of her school bus when she falls and is fatally run over by the rear tires. An 11-year-old girl is struck and killed by a passing vehicle as she tries to cross the road to wait at her bus stop. Four students die when their bus plunges off an Alabama highway overpass.

Hoping for a Green Light on Additional Amber, Red Lights

To Fairfax County Public Schools transportation director Linda Farbry, loading and unloading children poses serious safety issues. That’s why she is hoping that the Virginia Board of Education will allow her school district to experiment with placing additional warning lights on the sides of its school buses.

Yellow Redemption

In New Orleans and beyond, school buses are at the center of hurricane evacuations again, this time as heroes.

They hadn’t planned on using them, but the motorcoaches the city of New Orleans had counted on weren’t coming in fast enough and Hurricane Gustav was barreling towards the coast. So, it was yellow school buses to the rescue.

And the Final Answer Is...

Debate ends on E-rate eligibility of GPS data transfer

After months of phone calls, e-mails, explanations, documentation and discussion, the great E-rate debate has come to an end, for now. To some companies’ joy and others’ despair, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) recently answered a question during a training session in New Orleans that many have argued for and against.

30 Years of Proving Their Limits

MARSHALL, Mich. — In a moment, the nervous driver behind the wheel will depress the accelerator and head down a narrow course of orange cones. The lane will dead-end in 60 feet, and the instructor will tell her to swerve right or left. Behind her, four drivers pay attention to every detail, hoping to learn something before it’s their turn.This two-day course at the Eaton Proving Grounds is her chance to conquer the potentially deadly hazards that could paralyze a driver on the safety of a professional driving course with 14 expert instructors.

Training to Keep Watch

During the 2007 STN EXPO, attendees were introduced to a speaker who carried almost four decades of experience in the criminal justice profession along with a friendly and disarming demeanor. After being introduced at one of the morning sessions, he quickly delved into his area of expertise — child abductions and the predators behind these heinous crimes, which have ended in the deaths of many innocent children and teens.

Funding School Bus Security

In February, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced federal grant programs totaling more than $3 billion. Approximately half of the money — $1.7 billion — is divided into four categories, with the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) and State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) closely splitting almost 97 percent of the total grants.

Challenge Day, NAPT and Transfinder Want You ... To Join the War on Bullying

For Mike Martin, like many of those involved in bringing the Challenge Day anti-bullying program to the National Association for Pupil Transportation’s conference in Myrtle Beach, S.C., this month, the war on bullying has personal stakes. Martin knew bullying was one of the core problems facing the industry from the time he became involved with NAPT in the early 1990s. Still, despite being NAPT’s executive director, he didn’t let anyone know until recently that he was bullied as a child.

A Multi-Agency Team Effort

Florida agencies collaborate to create ground-breaking Child Abduction Response Teams

From the first moment a child is missing, there is the immediate fear that they will never be found. That fear is rooted in data from a study performed by the U.S. Department of Justice — 74 percent of all children who are abducted and later found murdered were killed within the first three hours of the kidnapping. For that reason and many others, Child Abduction Response Teams (CART) are used to mobilize state-wide efforts to quickly and successfully locate missing children.

The Carrollton School Bus Crash: Continuing to Heal 20 Years Later

It was a moment that changed the lives of not only those on board the bus, but their loved ones waiting at home. Within seconds of Larry Mahoney’s Toyota pickup smashing into a school bus full of children returning from a church trip to a local amusement park, the gas tank ruptured and fire and black smoke engulfed the bus. When it was over, a total of 27 of the 67 passengers were dead, marking the Carrollton, Ky., school bus crash as the most deadly drunk driving crash in U.S. history.