MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — The South Carolina Association for Pupil Transportation held its annual conference and trade show here last week, and one of the sessions covered a grassroots effort to reduce stop-arm violations in the state.
David Poag, operations and routing supervisor for Anderson (S.C.) School District Five, spoke to attendees about the S.A.V.E. (Stop-Arm Violation Education Enforcement) campaign, which was created to raise awareness on the dangers of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses.
As SBF previously reported, one of Poag’s goals with the campaign is awareness and support at the legislative level.
He was successful in reaching out to a local legislator, Sen. Thomas Alexander, who introduced a bill that would amend South Carolina law to provide that a motorist would be found liable of a civil penalty for overtaking a stopped school bus if the violation is captured on a video surveillance camera mounted on the bus.
Alexander joined Poag during his presentation at last week’s conference to discuss the legislation with attendees.
“Sen. Alexander encouraged folks to get in touch with their local legislators about the bill and to ask them for their support,” Poag told SBF after the conference. “He said he supports the idea of vendors paying for and maintaining the stop-arm cameras in exchange for a portion of the violation fine. He seemed to think that could work, but he stressed that that issue would need to be decided by the transportation committee now responsible for the bill. One of his main points was that this bill is not designed to be a revenue maker for the state or anyone else — its main purpose is to keep our kids safe at bus stops by mitigating the amount of violations in South Carolina.”
Poag also said that attendees responded positively to Alexander’s discussion, with some telling Poag that they would talk with their school boards, parent associations and legislators to try to gain support for the bill.
“Some folks expressed opinions that they'd like to see some of the monies collected from fines to go into a fund to help buy more school buses in South Carolina,” he noted.
Also during his presentation, Poag introduced a new aspect of the educational component of his campaign: the Steffi Crossing Enhancer, which was invented by New York school bus driver Victoria DeCarlo.
(As SBF recently reported, the tool — a reflective arrow with elastic bands that drivers wear on the back of their hand — is gaining attention in other states.)
Poag showed the Steffi to attendees and spoke about the important role that bus drivers play in helping students to safely cross the street to board the bus or after disembarking.
He said this is where the Steffi comes in — he said he believes "it can save lives because it allows children to more easily see through the windshield [the driver’s signal to cross].”
Poag also said Anderson School District Five will be the first district in South Carolina to implement the use of the Steffi Crossing Enhancer.