PORTLAND, Ore. — This year's National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Summit began here over the weekend, featuring familiar topics addressed with new intensity.
Pupil transportation consultant and industry veteran Dick Fischer, together with Peter Lawrence, director of transportation at Fairport (N.Y.) Central School District, gave a presentation Sunday afternoon on the topic of safety during loading and unloading.
Lawrence urged attendees to connect with county officials in order to receive the latest mapping data to ensure districts take into consideration newly built roads, sidewalks and other changes during routing each year.
Fischer suggested that route sheets be tested by substitute drivers, as they will rely on them most during the school year. He told attendees to print text in a large font and mark locations where students must cross the street in bright red.
Transportation managers should also train drivers to evaluate stop safety and report hazards as soon as they arise, the presenters said.
A white paper from the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute's School Bus Stops Safety Guide and the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures manual — which "should be on every desk," Fischer said — were among the resources the presenters recommended to attendees.
In addition, Fischer urged those in the seminar to watch a video from AAA called "Children in Traffic."
The afternoon's keynote presentation was made by Dr. Daniel Turner, professor of civil engineering at the University of Alabama and lead researcher in the state's school bus seat belt study, the results of which were released last week.
"It's always an emotional, deeply driven issue," Turner said. He noted that the state of Alabama was galvanized by the Huntsville school bus accident in 2008. which killed four students and injured dozens.
Turner pointed out noteworthy findings of the study, including the fact that student use of seat belts was higher on buses with drivers who were highly rated. In the study's conclusion, researchers suggest funds would be better spent outside the school bus, making improvements to danger zone safety.
Also available at the Summit this year is NAPT's recently developed Special Needs Transportation Training courses and certification program.