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January 04, 2013  |   Comments (3)   |   Post a comment

Iowa study probes stop-arm safety measures

By Thomas McMahon

Iowa officials say that a new study confirms the exemplary safety record of school buses but sheds light on further efforts that could help prevent loading and unloading accidents.

Iowa officials say that a new study confirms the exemplary safety record of school buses but sheds light on further efforts that could help prevent loading and unloading accidents.

DES MOINES, Iowa — A new Iowa report, required by last year's "Kadyn's Law," analyzes ways to potentially reduce the illegal passing of school buses, including stop-arm cameras.

State officials said that the study, conducted by researchers at Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, confirms the exemplary safety record of school bus transportation but sheds light on further efforts that could help prevent loading and unloading accidents.

"This report states that parents should be encouraged to have their children ride the bus to and from school because buses are one of the safest forms of transportation available," said Steve Gent, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Office of Traffic and Safety. "Yet the safety of our children is still a real concern, primarily due to vehicles illegally passing stopped school buses.”

Max Christensen, the Iowa Department of Education’s state director of school transportation, added that “ensuring the safety of Iowa’s schoolchildren is a top priority for this department and for all of Iowa schools and districts. Taking actions at the local level, such as evaluating the feasibility of home-side loading/unloading of students and working with area law enforcement agencies, is essential.”

The study addressed three specific safety elements:

1. Use of school bus stop-arm cameras to enhance safety and aid in enforcement of motor vehicle laws pertaining to stop-arm violations.

2. The feasibility of requiring schoolchildren to be picked up and dropped off on the side of the road on which their homes are located.

3. Inclusion of school bus safety as a priority in general driver training curriculum.

Twenty Iowa school districts confirmed that they are currently using stop-arm cameras as a deterrent. The researchers found that the cameras do aid in the enforcement of motor vehicle laws and enhance safety if there is an effective and sustainable process to turn a camera image into a traffic citation and ultimately a court conviction.

Although Kadyn’s Law imposes a mandatory minimum fine of $250 for the first offense, records show that 65% of fines imposed between Aug. 15 and Oct. 31, 2012, were less than the minimum. But the researchers said that enhanced awareness within the judicial system of the Kadyn's Law changes should result in increased compliance.

To evaluate the impact of potentially requiring home-side loading for all stops, the research team worked with a school district, revising an urban route and a rural route to comply with home-side loading.

As a result, 33 more bus stops were added to the urban route and 17 more miles of travel were added to the rural route. The researchers found that the home-side loading requirement would increase the annual costs of the urban route by $8,000 and the rural route by $24,000.

"Home-side loading has the potential to affect the cost per pupil transported significantly without a defined quantifiable benefit to justify these costs," the researchers said in the study. "Looking forward, districts should continue to be encouraged to consider home-side loading as a matter of best practice and discretion and stop short of a specific requirement."

The study also noted that installation of a second stop arm at the rear of the bus is a low-cost solution that enhances safety by increasing visibility for vehicles approaching from the rear. Some Iowa school districts currently have second stop arms on their buses.

To view the full report, click here.

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Read more about: efficiency, Iowa, routing, school bus stops, stop arm running/illegal passing, stop arms, video surveillance

I am sorry but after looking at the report and the pictures of your school buses no wonder your general public does not know what to do. I know that by the late 60's (could have been earlier that is when I started driving a car) all buses in California had to have in large lettering on the back of every school bus STOP WHEN RED LIGHTS FLASH and it is also on the writen DVM driver license test you can't blame the public if the basic steps have not been taken by each of the states departments of transportation

JM    |    Jan 09, 2013 03:09 PM

"Your child's safety is my first concern" A detailed report of annual school bus driver training in this school district the year before the death of this student compared to the years since then would be beneficial to all school districts. None of us would ever want to go thru this horror. Professional drivers of yellow buses also need safety equipment to work with. 1. Front mounted crossing gate 2. Exterior/interior PA system 3. Remote control & heated rear view mirrors 4. When the motoring public observes the school bus driver holding the students in front of the bus facing the bus driver until they are instructed to "walk" across the roadway(in a group or singly)= You Will See A Smile Of Respect From The Motoring Public.

Dwight -- DSBSI ltd.    |    Jan 08, 2013 09:58 PM

I do not understand why other states do not escort their students across the street in fact I do not understand why other California school do not escort all students encluding high school students eventho the law here only requires us to escort pre k thru 8th grade students at a lot of districts they to want to show that they have taken extra care for the safety of all students and they escort all students of all ages and grades how can you justify that you do not cross a high school student and they get hit by a car there is no reason not to have the driver leave the drivers seat and cross all students it is the safest thing to do the stop arms really do not do anything if the person doesn't see the bus as I have heard a lot in the past 20 some years what makes you think they are going to see a stop arm. We need to get this fixed not make it a choose all students crossed by driver

JACKIE MONTELLO    |    Jan 08, 2013 04:39 PM

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