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August 12, 2013  |   Comments (6)   |   Post a comment

Flag system shows that bus has been checked

By Thomas McMahon

At the end of a run, the bus driver walks to the back, checking for children, and then releases the Double Check flag so it hangs in the window — allowing supervisors to see that the bus has been inspected.Photo by Laura Byrd McKenzie

At the end of a run, the bus driver walks to the back, checking for children, and then releases the Double Check flag so it hangs in the window — allowing supervisors to see that the bus has been inspected.
Photo by Laura Byrd McKenzie

DARLINGTON, S.C. — A school transportation director here has created an innovative yet simple product to help prevent sleeping students from being left on school buses.

Eddie McKenzie, director of transportation for Darlington County School District, conceived the new Double Check Child/Safety System, which is a flag made of reflective molded polymer material that can be secured at the back of the bus.

At the end of a run, the driver walks to the back, checking for children, and then releases the flag so it hangs in the window. Supervisors and others on the outside can then see that the bus has been inspected.

Before a run, the driver walks to the back as part of the pre-trip inspection and then raises the flag, positioning it in its keyhole securement above the window. Then, as the bus leaves the parking lot, supervisors can see that the flag is not visible in the window, again confirming that the bus has been inspected.

“I created the flag concept after observing bus drivers' attempts to attach temporary paper reminders on the back interior wall of buses to prompt them to search the bus for children left behind, and after seeing these reminders lying on the bus floor or missing," McKenzie said. "I knew we needed something consistent, permanent, inexpensive, and easy to install and use that provided supervisors a simple way to verify that every driver had completed their bus check.”

The Double Check flag includes three plastic washers and accompanying self-tapping screws. The washers and flag are manufactured as a single piece.

Donald Tudor, former state pupil transportation director for South Carolina, has been working on the launch of the Double Check system. He said its key advantage is its simplicity.

"The product is unique in that it is nearly indestructible, inexpensive, easy to install, has no electronic components to fail, and requires the driver to check the school bus every time a route is started or ended," Tudor said, noting that it costs less than $30.

Double Check has been shown at recent industry trade shows, and it's now being distributed by Heavy Duty Bus Parts, Bus Parts Warehouse and Unity School Bus Parts.

For more information, go here.

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Read more about: inspections, post-trip child check, South Carolina

We at STS (School Transport Services LLC) took a step further and introduced a Child Check Electronic button concept for this. The driver walks back physically checking and has to press a button installed at the very end of the bus. In case he fails to press this button within 2 to 3 minutes, an alarm goes on and everyone in the nearby area comes to know the vehicle has not been inspected. This is part of the Post-trip inspection routine.

Rajagopalan K    |    Sep 11, 2013 09:34 AM

I am currently using this system and we love it. We require our drivers to check the bus in the am before they leave and then when they return.the must do the same in the pm. One of the main aspects I have in place, is we have a second check by staff in the morning s after all buses are parked and then in the evenings before we leave the parking lot. One employee will check all the buses for the flags to be in the down poistion, if one is not, then they are required to actually board the bus and check it, then lower the flad and the next day we speak with the driver and if it occurs again, we take further actionon the driver. A few years ago we had child left on the bus and was locked in the bus lot. The child was waiting inside the gate. This has truly helped us and added extra accountability. I do like the fact it is mounted in the bus. I did look at the ones which have velcro or magnets and those were not as permanent. This was a quick and inexpensive fix to a problem none of us wish to have.

Bill Kurts    |    Aug 14, 2013 01:11 PM

Very surprised this is being describe by SBF as a "innovated" product. I have seen this concept tried for years. The fact is, it still leaves the check open to human error (memory). With Child Check-Mate on our buses we know our drivers will never forget to go to the back of their bus at the end of every trip. That said all effort to improve safety is commendable.

Frank    |    Aug 14, 2013 06:40 AM

We tried this about 10 yrs ago, we found that drivers would forget or just not hang the flag in the back window, so we installed child check-mate on all of our buses, now they have to check the bus or the horn sounds and the lights flash.

Jody Hoffmann    |    Aug 14, 2013 05:31 AM

Other districts have these and they still leave children on the bus. Walk back put sign up and leave. Never really checking the bus.

Debbie    |    Aug 14, 2013 05:23 AM

First Student a Division of Firstgroup America has been doing this for at least 5 years now! Our signs are large yellow and say "This Bus Has Been Checked For Sleeping Children" they have a magnetic strip at the top which secures it to the bus making it visible to the person responsible for checking that the buses were all checked. It is removed during the required Federal Pre-trip Inspection as it is illegal to drive down the road with any obstruction in the windows!

Melissa    |    Aug 12, 2013 11:32 AM

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