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November 01, 2008  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Stop and smell the roses

by Frank Di Giacomo, Publisher


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Some people just can’t take a hint. Or even several hints.

A guy is cruising down the street in his shiny, silver sedan when, up ahead, he sees a big, yellow school bus stopped and a bunch of kids climbing on board. That seems like a good hint, but maybe it’s too subtle for him.

This motorist also sees that there are flashing red lights on the back of the bus. I’d call that a strong hint.

Sticking out of the side of the bus is a stop sign, which also has flashing red lights and, of course, the word “STOP” painted in big, white letters. That’s beyond a hint.

Despite all the indications that this guy is supposed to, yes, stop for the bus, he slides into the other lane and rolls right past, hardly even lowering his speed.

This is likely a familiar scenario to anyone who’s been around a school bus. As you’ll read in the feature story by Senior Editor Claire Atkinson in this issue, one study found that a school bus was subjected to an average of 4.5 of these illegal maneuvers per day.

The problem is perplexing and dangerous. In the 2006-07 school year, four children in the U.S. were killed — and surely many more were injured — by vehicles passing their school bus.

A journalistic tradition
At least once a year, SCHOOL BUS FLEET does an extra-long article — a “blockbuster,” as we call them — on a topic that we determine to be among the most pressing for the industry.

Last year, Associate Editor Kelly Roher wrote a blockbuster on bullying on the school bus. The year before that, Executive Editor Thomas McMahon did one on sleeping children being left accidentally on the bus.

The articles dug deep into these important issues and came up with a wealth of strategies for dealing with them. Both Kelly’s and Thomas’ blockbusters won the esteemed annual “Best Feature” award from our parent company, Bobit Business Media, which publishes more than 20 magazines.

Claire will contend for the award next year (no pressure), but the main validation we strive for is from you, our readers. We aim to help you do your job better, and I believe that Claire’s article is another significant contribution toward that end.

Digging in
In the article, Claire provides a comprehensive guide to reducing the rate of stop arm running — from reaching out to the public to partnering with law enforcement to implementing new technology.

To research the topic, Claire interviewed nearly a dozen people, including a senator, state directors of pupil transportation, association heads, district and contractor officials, and equipment manufacturers.

She also compiled information from numerous studies, such as the National School Bus Loading & Unloading Survey, which the Kansas State Department of Education provides annually.

The result of all of this hard work is a fascinating and informative read.

My thanks to Claire and the rest of our editors and contributing writers for consistently delivering high-quality articles. And thanks to you for reading.

 


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