Pupil transportation providers, suppliers, and elected officials nationwide came together from Oct. 21 to 25 to celebrate the National Association for Pupil Transportation’s (NAPT’s) National School Bus Safety Week with events highlighting school bus safety education and driver appreciation.
The theme for NAPT’s annual campaign this year is “My School Bus, The Safest Form of Student Transportation!”
The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) hosted a School Bus Illegal Passing Technology Showcase on the U.S. Capitol Grounds in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
In attendance were U.S. Sens. Gary Peters and Todd Young, U.S. Representatives Jackie Walorski, Julia Brownley, and Rodney Davis, as well as staff from congressional offices and federal agencies and school bus industry partners, according to a news release from the NSTA.
The event highlighted the growing problem of illegal passing of stopped school buses, technological solutions, and the Stop for School Buses Act of 2019 (S.1254/H.R. 2218).
Safe Fleet demonstrated a school bus equipped with its Predictive Stop Arm as well as its Driver Alert solution.
Also exhibited were a crossing guard school bus stop arm equipped with camera technology and auto ticketing feature, and a rear driver alert device.
Afterward, NSTA President John Benish Jr., along with congressional officials, spoke about the importance of school bus safety and the need to draw attention to the dangers of illegal passing in a press conference.
“NSTA was pleased to host this event to focus on illegal passing during National School Bus Safety Week,” Benish Jr. said. “As a father of four, and an owner of a family-operated school transportation company, ensuring students are transported in a safe and efficient manner is of utmost importance. I look forward to a continuing dialogue with policymakers about ways we can make the safest form of transportation even safer.”
“Today’s event was an important opportunity to learn more about innovative technologies that can help prevent drivers from illegally passing school buses and to discuss our bipartisan efforts in Congress to ensure students are safe on their way to and from school,” Walorski said, according to a news release from the representative’s office. “The Stop for School Buses Act will help states and local communities take the most effective actions to prevent tragedies and save lives.”
Meanwhile, the New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) used the occasion to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a key piece of legislation addressing school bus safety education spearheaded by the association into law, according to a news release from the association.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (AB605A) and Sen. Anna Kaplan (SB2960B), would require adding at least one question about school bus safety awareness to the written test for general driver’s license applicants. As SBF previously reported, the topic would also have to be covered in the state’s driver pre-licensing driver's education course. The bill passed both houses during the 2019 legislative session.
The Utah School Public Relations Association hosted on Tuesday a press conference, “Stop the Stop Arm Violations,” which included speakers from the state’s pupil transportation association, the state transportation specialist, and a local school bus driver and school district superintendent.
One of the speakers, Launi Schmutz Harden, the director of transportation for Washington County School District and president of the Utah Association of Pupil Transportation, said that stopping for a school bus’s red lights is a top concern and that the number of fatalities as a result of stop-arm running incidents is increasing.
“We want to ensure Utah drivers are educated,” Harden said. “When a mistake is made, there is no second chance when it comes to our students.”
Harden added that school buses in Washington County stop nearly 9,000 times a day, and that vehicles passing a school bus cause an estimated two-thirds of loading and unloading fatalities.
More generally, schools across the U.S. marked the occasion by partnering with law enforcement to bring awareness of school bus safety to the general public, teaching students about school bus safety, and showing appreciation for their bus drivers, with gestures such as a special breakfast cooked by student chefs, gift bags, and treats from students.
In addition to partnering with the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) on a new video, “My School Bus, the Safest Form of Student Transportation,” to promote National School Bus Safety Week, Student Transportation of America (STA) also announced the seventh group of inductees into its Safety Wall of Fame.
Employees were nominated by location managers from across the U.S. and Canada. The 15 inductees will be recognized during a special ceremony in the spring with members of the STA executive and senior leadership teams.
Additionally, smart fleet management technology supplier Zonar created a downloadable infographic that takes a look back at the history of school buses and how technology has been used to ensure passenger safety.