ST. PAUL, Minn. — Crossing arms would be required on new school buses in the state under a bill being considered by the Minnesota Legislature.
The Minnesota School Bus Operators Association (MSBOA) reported in a recent newsletter that it supports the bill but is asking for the effective date to be pushed from Jan. 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2012.
A crossing arm is “not that much of an investment in the overall cost of a bus,” Shelly Jonas, executive administrator of MSBOA, told SBF, “and if it can prevent one death, then it’s worth it.”
Last year near Pine River, Minn., a 6-year-old boy was struck and killed by his school bus as he was crossing in front. Pine River is in the district of state Rep. Larry Howes, who introduced the crossing-arm legislation.
School bus crossing arms, or gates, extend automatically from the right side of the front bumper to keep children from crossing too close to the bus.
The House bill was introduced in February. So far, it has passed the Transportation Policy and Finance Committee and has been referred to the Education Finance committee. A Senate version has also been introduced.
David Peterson, communications officer for the Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT), said that crossing arms are widely used in the state under local discretion, but MAPT doesn’t support mandating them for all school districts.
“Our rural districts that drop off students at their driveways don't see the need,” Peterson told SBF. “There are also concerns that a malfunction could put a bus out of service.”