When a problem looms large and seems to be getting out of control, and the typical solutions evidently no longer work as well, it’s time to try something else.
That’s what we’re seeing now as a response to the apparently escalating issue of motorists passing stopped school buses and injuring students or even causing fatalities.
We can keep employing tactics that we’ve seen success with in the past. But, we can also get creative, and try new solutions.
That’s what some people are doing to combat stop-arm running.
In South Carolina, a man has created an attachment for school bus stop arms in hopes of grabbing the attention of the motoring public and increasing the likelihood that they will stop for school buses, WIS reported recently.
Glennah Hart has been working for four years on an addition of what appears to be a plastic police officer that is about the same size as a stop arm, and fits onto the side of it that is opposite the bus.
Meanwhile, in Montana, a driver for Helena (Mont.) Public Schools, took an extra step to ensure that the students on her bus are safe and seen when crossing and waiting at their stops.
Katee Horner purchased reflective safety belts for students to wear as a sash. The U.S. Army veteran and first-year bus driver, told School Bus Fleet that she had worn one while serving. She was awarded second place in First Student’s 2019 Be First Awards for her initiative.
Bevann Hamill, who manages First Student’s Helena location, told SBF that First Student and Helena Public Schools plan to offer the reflective belts to most of the students on rural bus routes by this fall, and that the district and school bus company will share the cost.
And then there’s the adoption of new technology in many places, including school districts in Minnesota, Indiana, and Florida.
Hopkins (Minn.) Public Schools and Clark-Pleasant Community Schools Corp. in Whiteland, Indiana, are conducting pilot tests with the Predictive Stop-Arm (PSA) system from Safe Fleet. Using radar technology and predictive analytics, the system is designed to provide active visual and audio alerts to students and bus drivers once the risk of a vehicle passing a stop arm is detected.
Additionally, in Florida, St. Lucie Public Schools has operated the PSA live on regular routes on 10 buses since August 2018, Safe Fleet told SBF, and, at press time, expected to officially roll it out in May or June.
You’re probably familiar with the proverb “Necessity is the mother of invention.” That certainly seems to hold true when it comes to seeking a way to curb or completely eliminate stop-arm running. In addition to educational efforts and the stiffer penalties that many states are employing — most recently Indiana, Oklahoma, Idaho, and West Virginia — a federal bill is calling for the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a comprehensive review of existing laws and programs in all 50 states, recommend best practices, and create a nationwide public safety campaign.
We can only hope that these attempts will assist in raising awareness among the motoring public and help make conditions around the school bus even safer for students.
Are you aware of any other creative solutions being employed to prevent illegal bus passing? If so, please share them in the comments section below.