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September 25, 2012  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

State directors: Why we do it this way

State pupil transportation directors discuss their states’ school bus specs and procedures that stand out, from fluorescent driver seat belts to buffer zones at the back of the bus.

by Thomas McMahon - Also by this author


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In Delaware, school bus driver seat belts are spec’d in fluorescent green or orange, making it easier to monitor belt use.

In Delaware, school bus driver seat belts are spec’d in fluorescent green or orange, making it easier to monitor belt use.

Visit a school bus manufacturing plant, and you’ll see that buses bound for different states have a wide variety of different requirements.

Of course, pupil transportation variations from state to state aren’t limited to bus specifications. States have many unique practices in operations, training, funding and other areas.

Here, state pupil transportation directors discuss some of their states’ specs and procedures that stand out.

Ind. requires bus buffer zone
An innovative safety measure in Indiana keeps students away from the very back of the bus.

State director Michael LaRocco says that one of Indiana’s school bus specifications is a requirement for a buffer zone behind the back seat.

For Type C and D buses, the spec states, “the distance between the rearmost portion of the seat backs of the rear row of seats and the outside rear of the bus body, measured at the floor line, must be at least eight (8) inches.”

For Type A buses, the distance must be at least 6 inches.

LaRocco explains that the measure is to enhance protection for school bus passengers. In the event of another vehicle crashing into the rear of the bus, children sitting in the back seats will be farther away from the point of impact.

Seat belts stand out in Del.
It’s vital that school bus drivers buckle up — for their own safety as well as their passengers’ safety. In Delaware, school bus driver seat belts are spec’d in fluorescent green or orange.

State director Ron Love says that these conspicuous colors make it easier for supervisors to see that their drivers are wearing their belts.

Delaware’s school buses are also equipped with an outside public address (PA) system for important instructions.

“The PA is used primarily to communicate to students when to get on the bus and when it is safe for them to cross in front of the bus,” Love says.

Mo. links funding, efficiency
Missouri has an interesting funding formula that is based on efficiency.

State director Roger Dorson explains that the funding formula uses an algebraic equation to compare each school district’s bus ridership, miles, days operated and costs to statewide data to determine the efficiency of the district.

“A penalty is applied to the district’s transportation calculation if the district is determined to be inefficient,” he says.

Also noteworthy: Missouri requires a second stop arm on its school buses, on the left side near the rear. The mandate went into effect for buses manufactured after June 30, 2007.

“There are no stats that display whether it has been effective,” Dorson says, “but since the majority of student fatalities occur in the loading and unloading zone, the technical advisory committee for the Missouri Minimum Standards for School Buses determined it was an added safety feature that Missouri should have on our buses.”

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