Challenges of the Supreme Court’s Desegregation Ruling

The Jefferson County Board of Education, near Louisville, Ky., decided to drop the use of an individual student’s race in determining school assignments. The move came after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in July that doing so without a court order is an unconstitutional violation of students’ rights to equal protection.

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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.

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School Bus Stock

Barry Stock knows a thing or two about going to work for a foreign-held, mega transport company.

With the pending merger of Laidlaw into the fold of First Group of Aberdeen, Scotland, which is expected to triple the school bus operations at U.S.-based First Student, it’s apropos Stock takes the reigns of the National School Transportation Association next month as its president.

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Looking at the Future

Apprentice programs form the next generation in pupil transportation.

In the Denver suburb of Thorton, Co., Dave Anderson, transportation director of Adams Five Star Schools, knows exactly where one of the tomorrow’s leaders in pupil transportation is: in his garage learning from his senior mechanics.

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Asleep at the Wheel?

We have all either suffered from it or tossed and turned in bed trying to ignore it — that loud, cavernous snore that seems to come from deep within yourself or a loved one. It’s been the brunt of a number of small- and big-screen jokes, but it’s become less and less of a laughing matter. Snoring can be the sign of a greater problem: sleep apnea.

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Driver Distraction

What is distracted driving?

Nearly everyone in today's society has a cell phone. Or a BlackBerry. Or PDA. An iPod. Take your pick; someone has a portable electronic device designed to communicate with others or entertain ourselves. Despite a growing number of states that have passed laws banning hand-held cell phone usage while driving, just take a look around you on the road and you're likely to see dozens of other motorists with their phone to the ear while driving. Or, worse yet, they're texting.

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute research shows that distracted driving increases the risk of a crash by 23 times, or 23,000 percent. Data from the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety has shown that driver distraction can lead to fewer mirror checks and not seeing things that are otherwise visible to all others, a phenomenon known as inattentional blindness.The U.S. Department of Transportation has taken notice and targeted high rates of distracted driving by all motorists and especially especially school bus drivers. In September 2009, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood hosted a two-day summit in Washington, D.C., that brought together federal and state officials, politicians, safety experts, representatives of the telecommunications industry, and concerned members of the public to discuss the topic, the oftentime fatal results of distracted driving and what to do do stop it.

In response to data-filled testimony and heart-wrenching accounts of fatalites at the hands of distracted drivers, LaHood announced that legislation was being worked on in Congress that would revoke commercial driver's licenses from anyone convicted of texting while driving and that would ban all newly-licensed divers from using cell phones in personal vehicles. In July 2009, the Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers Act, or the ALERT Drivers Act, was introducedthat would ban all cell phone or mobile device texting by motorists including commercial drivers. If passed, states would need to adopt the guidelines or forfeit 25 percent of its federal highway safety funds.

Meanwhile, the FMCSA has implemented a final rule that makes it illegal for all interstate commercial drives to text or use hands-free or hand-held mobile communications devices. Check out an FAQ from J.J. Keller that breaks down the what the rule means. Note: most school bus drivers are not considered interstate commercial drivers, though some who work for a private bus company with a DOT number may need to comply with the rule.

The list of states that ban cell phone usage or texting by all motorists, including school bus drivers, is on the rise, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But, the Department of Transportation says any cell phone ban legislation should include requirements for in-vehicle or other voice-activated systems that are proven to be less risky then using other hands-free technology such as head sets, as these voice-activated systems do not require any “eyes off the road time.” The National Transportation Safety Board issued recommendations that all states and D.C. initiate laws that ban all hand-held and hands-free mobile communication usage, including texting, email and updating social networking sites. But NTSB's recommendations are only that and carry no regulatory weight.






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Final Rule on CDL Improvements

By the National School Transportation Association

On July 31, 2002 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published new rules affecting commercial drivers and the CDL licensing program. The significance of these rules will vary depending on the state, but they will affect every school bus carrier (including school district operations) to some degree. The following analysis highlights the additions and changes to the CDL program, in the order of importance to NSTA members. All parts of the rule are effective September 30, 2002 , though carriers won't see the effects until their states adopt conforming rules. States have three years to come into compliance.

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