Taking on a tough topic

Frank Di Giacomo
Posted on November 23, 2010

Outside of judges, lawyers and others in related professions, I'm guessing that most people would not choose to spend time in courtrooms.

Sure, we'll fulfill our civic duty to serve on a jury when we're called upon, but how many of us would volunteer for the task if it weren't required?

In a similar vein, the topic of lawsuits is one that we've rarely delved into in the pages of SCHOOL BUS FLEET. It's not that we've made a point of steering clear of it, but, admittedly, it's not the easiest subject to write about or to get people to discuss.

Yet here we are with a four-page feature in this issue on lawsuits and the impact they have on the pupil transportation industry. And I must say, it's a stimulating change of pace.

Executive Editor Thomas McMahon has spent many hours over the past few months researching and developing this lengthy article, and he certainly delivered an interesting and insightful read.

Our industry has an intense focus on the safety of our young passengers and an unsurpassed track record. But no transportation system is perfect — there will always be some degree of risk and, therefore, the potential for litigation.

While we certainly should not live in constant fear of "what could happen" or in anticipation of run-ins with lawyers, we also can't bury our heads in the sand. We need to be informed on the types of issues that often lead to lawsuits, and we need to make sure that we're aligning ourselves with industry best practices — to protect our passengers first and foremost, but also to protect our own operations.

Important edition
Not counting our annual Fact Book, our November issue is the biggest of the year. We send more than a thousand extra copies of it to the conferences of the National Association for Pupil Transportation and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services.

Of course, we aim to fill the issue with insightful content for all of our readers, whether they attend the conferences or not. We also want to make sure that we offer an opportunity for the many industry members who gather in Portland, Ore., (where the events are being held this year) to discuss with colleagues what they read in our magazine.

The cornerstone of this effort is what we call a "blockbuster" — a longer feature that deals with some urgent topic. Thomas' article on lawsuits fills that vital role this year. We hope you find it informative and that you'll give us any comments on it that you'd like to share.

Our thanks to all of the industry experts who gave Thomas their input for the article. We could not have pulled this off without them.

I need to also mention that last year's blockbuster, Kelly Roher's "Approaches to Protect Students in Loading Zones," captured the coveted "Best Feature" title in the awards program that our publishing company conducts each summer.

Our company, Bobit Business Media, prints about 20 magazines, so it's a sizable field of competition. What makes the news even more remarkable is that it's the second time Kelly has won the award.

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