Frustrated by the ongoing problem of illegal school bus passing, a longtime school transportation professional and his business partner designed a tool to potentially prevent these dangerous incidents.
School bus industry veteran Jamie Enger co-invented and co-founded the company S.A.F.E. (Stop Arm Fixed Extension) GATES™. The illuminated, retrofit stop-arm gates of the same name are designed to be more visibile to motorists.
The idea to create the retrofit arm gates came to Enger, who is also a mechanic, after his son was nearly hit by a motorist who illegally passed a school bus. Enger said that he thought that the stop sign may not extend out far enough to be seen by motorists, and started working on a product that would be even more visible and that would be easy to install. He and his business partner conducted research for three years, focusing on visibility, durability and affordability for nearly any school district or school transportation company.
The S.A.F.E. GATES stop-arm gates are available in a 20-inch or 48-inch model, and are made of either fiberglass, aluminum or stainless steel. A package that includes both gates, for both front and rear stop arms, is also available. The 48-inch Large retrofit gate is designed for the front stop arm, and the 20-inch Junior retrofit gate is the ideal length for the rear stop arm, Enger said. The aluminum, 48-inch and 20-inch gate package is created particularly for manufacturers to add to new buses, or for contractors or school districts that want to retrofit buses.
S.A.F.E. GATES™ also feature high visibility, with 3-inch wide 3M diamond reflective tape and LED lights on front and back, and can be seen over 1 mile away, Enger said. Additionally, they are durable enough to withstand being hit by a vehicle at up to 35 miles per hour without breaking off the bus, he added.
S.A.F.E. GATES™ can be installed on any stop arm, Enger said. Only one breakaway bolt needs to be drilled into the stop sign, and installation can be completed in less than 15 minutes.
Although Enger thinks that installing cameras on the side of school buses to ticket motorists running the stop arm is a good idea, he has an eye on prevention, he said.
“A camera will not stop a vehicle from running a school bus stop arm, thus leaving a child in danger,” Enger added. “Let’s stop vehicles from running the stop arm by using a S.A.F.E. GATES™ product, not generate money through fines for municipalities.”