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.”
Each state has different rules and specifications about what aftermarket products can be added to a school bus. In this case, Simmons, the senior transportation manager for the division of public school academic facilities and transportation at the Arkansas Department of Education, indicated that the system did not go through a formal approval process but is an option for school districts based on state specs and rules.
The Gardian Angel is meant to reduce the number of vehicles passing school buses, as well as to increase the visibility of students boarding or getting off the bus, particularly in the dark. It was originally made up of two red high-intensity flashing strobe lights that are attached to the hood, along with a white flood light that mounts to the left side of the front bumper, creating a well-lit path for students to walk in.
According to inventor Steve Gardner, the company has now developed multiple lighting product lines in order to meet the needs of each state, as each has different rules and specifications about what aftermarket products can be added to a school bus as well as the necessary process to prosecute illegal passers. For example, Gardner says, that some states require that digital, high-definition video cameras capture the color of a car in order to prosecute, which can sometimes be hard to tell with infrared camera footage. He added that having LED lights on the bus can help make this footage more clear.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that the state of Arkansas had approved the Gardian Angel system. STN regrets this error and any confusion that resulted.