STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) on Tuesday responded to an article on school bus advertising that was recently published in NEA Today.
NEA Today is a magazine published the National Education Association (NEA). The article, titled “Advertising on School Buses Softens the Budget Crunch,” discusses school districts in Arizona, Colorado and Texas that permit advertising on the exterior of their buses and the money that’s been generated as a result of it.
During Mesa (Ariz.) Public Schools’ first year of advertising, for example, approximately 25 percent of buses carried ads, earning about $60,000, according to the story.
The article also sought input on the topic of school bus advertising from individuals at state-based education and school employee associations.
Colorado Education Association President Beverly Ingle told NEA Today, “Compensating for school budget cuts with bus advertising revenue is not the way to go.”
Joe Selvidio, president of the Jefferson County Classified School Employees Association, told the magazine that the association takes no official position on advertising on school buses.
In a letter to Cynthia McCabe at NEA in response to the NEA Today article, NASDPTS Executive Director Bob Riley wrote that the association is opposed to advertising on school buses and recently researched this topic and issued an updated position paper about it called “Advertising on School Buses.”
“NASDPTS and other opponents to advertising on school buses recognize there is a lack of comprehensive data on the safety effects of school bus advertising, and we are concerned that there are no known studies to prove exterior advertising will not compromise safety. There have been studies that verify the effects of driver distraction on motor vehicle crashes, however. Certainly, the very intent of exterior advertising on school buses is to gain the attention of other motorists, distracting them from the driving task,” Riley wrote.
He went on to say that any diversion of a motorist’s attention can pose driving hazards, such as lane departures or intersection crashes. Since advertising on the exterior of school buses is a potential source of driver distraction, he wrote, it is reasonable to assume that such advertising will potentially result in accidents that would not have otherwise occurred.
Riley also addressed potential legal issues associated with allowing advertising on school buses, saying that while supporters of school bus advertising believe that committees should be formed to establish criteria for the appropriateness of the advertising, and believe the criteria will protect them from legal action, such criteria may be challenged in court.
He concluded by writing that NASDPTS supports NEA’s interest in expanding funding sources for educational programs, and that “NASDPTS would be pleased to work with NEA on efforts to maintain school bus ridership and federal, state and local funding for education.”