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February 01, 1999  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

State Directors Tab Safety Issues as Top Concerns

Emphasis is given to dangers posed by non-conforming vans and stop-arm violators, but the driver shortage is also deemed a major problem.

by Steve Hirano, Executive Editor

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TENNESSEE - James Abernathy (Executive Director, Financial/Auxiliary Services, Department of Education) reported that the state enacted more restrictive regulations relative to overload permit/waivers on school buses.

Major issues: 1.) use of vans; and 2.) limiting number of students transported on school bus to vehicle's rated capacity.

TEXAS - Sam Dixon (Program Administrator, School Transportation, Texas Education Agency) reported that the mandatory 20-hour basic training course for school bus drivers is being updated and should be complete by September 1999. Dixon also reported that the Department of Public Safety is adopting administrative rules for the placement of ads on school buses.

Major issues: 1.) seat belts; 2.) advertising on school buses; 3.) driver shortages; and 4.) passenger van and mass transit use.

UTAH - Brent Huffman (Pupil Transportation Specialist, State Office of Education) reported that the state has developed a new certified training program and standards book.

Major issues: 1.) use of vans; 2.) driver training; and 3.) bus standards.

VERMONT - Robert King (Program Specialist, Department of Motor Vehicles) reported that the state is working toward requiring stop arms to be equipped with either strobe lights or LED lights that spell "STOP." "We feel strongly that both of these add significantly to the visibility of the stop arm over conventional bulbs," he said. King also said that the state's Commissioner of Education appears to support the creation of a state director position.

Major issues: 1.) illegal passing of stopped school buses and 2.) route hazard and evaluation.

VIRGINIA - Barbara Goodman (Associate Director of Pupil Transportation, Department of Education) reported that a new program called "Polaris" was implemented. It is an automated crash reporting system with access through the Internet. Goodman also said that legislation was passed that allows nurse practitioners to perform and record the results of the school bus driver physical.

Major issues: 1.) driver shortage; 2.) insufficient number of Department of Education staff to offer technical assistance to school districts; 3.) cooperative solutions to disruptive behavior and consistency in administering punishment; and 4.) lack of knowledge and skills of those responsible for arranging and transporting students with disabilities.

WASHINGTON - Roger Eastman (Pupil Transportation Director, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) reported that the state's school bus driver certification program is now maintained on a Website with updates and driver status reported directly online. Eastman also reported that his office is developing a visual GIS database using GPS coordinates.

Major issues: 1.) operations funding; 2.) driver shortage; and 3.) drivers who fail to continue to meet the minimum requirements for school bus drivers due to serious traffic violations in their personal vehicles.

WEST VIRGINIA - Wayne Clutter (Director of School Transportation, Department of Education) reported that transportation regulations are being revised and that an audit of the transportation program has been authorized and will be completed by MGT of America.

Major issues: 1.) amount of time children spend on buses; and 2.) safety at loading and unloading areas.

WYOMING - Leeds Pickering (Program Manager-Pupil Transportation, Department of Education) reported that a state Supreme Court ruling prompted the state legislature to mandate a study of pupil transportation, resulting in proposed standards for school bus construction, operations and purchases.

Major issues: 1.) new rules for the construction and operation of school buses; 2.) funding of transportation at 100 percent.

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