This article was submitted by Leslie Sheldon, operations manager for Connecticut school bus contractor All-Star Transportation.
WATERBURY, Conn. — A middle school pupil’s independent study project on school bus idling has caught the attention of the board of education as well as local school transportation providers.
Daniel Speer’s project, with the mentoring of teacher Richard Atkins from the Talented and Gifted program, started months ago. Each morning, Daniel and his mom would drop his sister off at Wilby High School and wait in the nearby parking lot of North End Middle School for the doors to open for Daniel to start his academic day.
Day after day, he would watch school buses running for extensive periods of time while waiting to start their next route. Daniel didn’t like what he saw or what he was breathing when he exited his mom’s car to enter his school, so he decided to do something about it.
Daniel did numerous studies over the winter months to determine the impact that the diesel exhaust was having on his school environment. He conducted many tests and did his homework. His results were alarming on the extent of the effects that diesel fumes can have on him, his peers and the environment.
He set his course of action into educating the Waterbury school bus drivers and school administrators of the dangers of excessive idling and the laws that are in place to minimize it. State law allows school buses to idle for no longer than three minutes, with some exceptions. Violators can face fines up to $500.
Daniel contacted the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which supplied him with posters and brochures on the law to hand out. He was also informed that schools can get idling signs from the DEP to post in their yards.
He has personally delivered the flyers to North End Middle School drivers. His teacher Mr. Atkins said that since Daniel has handed out the flyers, he has noticed a substantial difference in buses being shut down now while waiting to load in the afternoon.
Daniel presented his project to the Waterbury Board of Education in early June. The board decided to get the idling signs up at Daniel’s school as well as every other school in the district.
School bus transportation providers can learn from Daniel and educate the professionals behind the wheel to shut their vehicle off after three minutes. After all, it is the law!