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September 01, 2005  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

New video takes aim at rail-crossing protocol

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new training video has been released to help school bus drivers prevent rail-crossing accidents.

The video, dubbed "Decide Smart, Arrive Safe," was a joint project of Operation Lifesaver and the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services.

Gerri Hall, president of Operation Lifesaver, said the video "provides a step-by-step safety plan to assist school bus drivers before and after they cross the tracks."

The 18-minute training tool covers three bus-train accidents — in Savannah, Ga., in 2005; Conasauga, Tenn., in 2000; and Fox River Grove, Ill., in 1995. In each case, the video provides tips for drivers to avoid similar circumstances.

Other points covered include the "Five Alive" drill, which teaches school bus drivers the following safety steps:

1. Prepare to stop when you see the advance-warning sign (or approaching crossbucks).

2. Make it quiet. Alert the students by flashing dome lights, announcing the need for quiet upon approach and cutting off noise from fans and radios to listen for a train.

3. Stop between 15 and 50 feet from the tracks or at the stop line. Open the driver window and bus door. Look both ways down the track, avoiding an obstructed view from poles, mirrors and window posts by leaning forward or back in your seat.

4. Do a double take. Look quickly again in both directions before crossing.

5. Cross, but do not shift on the tracks.

Drivers, buses and logistics for the video were provided by the transportation departments at Gordon County Schools in Calhoun, Ga., and Fairfax (Va.) County Schools.

Initial copies of "Decide Smart, Arrive Safe" were shipped to state pupil transportation directors and state Operation Lifesaver officials. The video will be available through Operation Lifesaver's Website,

Marmie Edwards, a public relations official at Operation Lifesaver, said the organization was working on a DVD version with additional features. Included in the extras would be a quiz and a section that shows a trainer and driver assessing a route before students come on board.

"That cushion of time — of thinking the process through in advance, of driving the route before the students even get on the bus — those are the elements that make for a safe trip," Edwards said.

The DVD was scheduled to be made available in October.

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