Archives for School Transportation News

Getting Students Back to School During COVID-19

Because of social distancing, classrooms and schoolbuses can only be filled to one-fourth of their capacities. This constraint alone requires that a broad range of dramatic changes be made in order for our children to return to physical school without placing out entire population at greater risk than we already are. Using the key points below, state educational and transportation officials can tweak this model into a formal, detailed plan, and hand it to their respective governors. With such plans implemented, students in many or most states should be able to return to Zoom school this September, and attend school,

State by State Variation in Crossing Procedures: Part 5 : Exceptions to Passing

While the differences between amber engagement, retrofit requirements and passing rules are, by themselves, dizzying enough, their overlapping and exacerbating complexities are compounded further still by a plethora of exceptions in many states which allow their passing rules to be legally ignored. This discussion does not include the typical and nearly-universal rule that an oncoming vehicle approaching a school bus along a four–lane or greater roadway separated by a median strip or barrier need not stop for a school bus with its flashers engaged on the opposite side of the roadway. However, as noted, differences in wording of regulations in

Who Needs to be on the School Bus

As this column has often discussed, the principal justification for school bus service is the fact that children below age 13, and particularly below age 10, do not possess the skills to cross streets or negotiate intersections as a matter of their physical, perceptual, mental and emotional development. These deficiencies have been thoroughly documented, particularly by a 1968 study conducted in Sweden, resulting in a report titled Children in Traffic. Interestingly, these benchmarks correspond to the structure of the modern American school system. Dividing students among elementary, middle and high schools, the first two of these divisions end largely with

State by State Variation in Crossing Procedures: Part 4: Passing Schoolbuses

Mirroring the myriad of twists and quirks in the installation, retrofit and engagement of crossing control devices, there are even more quirks in the regulations requiring motorists approaching these vehicles to stop for them – with or without their crossing equipment engaged. As examples: In a few states (e.g., Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee), motorists must also stop for a church bus engaging a signal (signifying loading or unloading). And in Tennessee they must also stop for youth buses. In North Carolina, motorists must stop similarly for vehicles transporting senior citizens – nomenclature that suggests how long ago such a regulation

The Steel Wave

The provision of school bus transportation is predicated on the notion that, below age 13, individuals do not fully possess the skills needed to cross streets and negotiate intersections. But this difficulty is further compounded by certain nuances of bus movement that few full-grown adults recognize, much less understand: When the light turned green, a bicyclist watched a school bus pull forward into the intersection. Just before the bus’ front cap reached the halfway point – from which the driver would then have turned sharply to the right – the bicyclist assumed that the vehicle would be traveling straight through

State by State Variation in Crossing Procedures: Part 3B: Flashers and Crossing Devices

Unlike certain benchmark changes in school bus design (like seat compartmentalization that followed on the heels of catastrophic crashes), the evolution of emergency flashers evolved slowly from data – most of it suppressed by the failure to tabulate and publicize the number of crossing fatalities not involving the victim’s collision with the school bus itself. With this piecemeal accumulation of only a small fraction of the actual carnage brought to our community’s attention, improvements in flashers thus limped along, state by state, often decades apart, stimulated periodically by federal mandates for improved equipment on all new buses, and retrofit provisions

Compromising Safety to Reduce Liability Exposure

Every responsible society has mechanisms to hold its citizens, and their organizations, accountable for their actions. With respect to safety, our society effects this goal through the enactment and enforcement of statutes and regulations, and through the process of civil litigation. As with most rules and most societies, many of our transportation organizations have discovered loopholes. Employing these loopholes, they have effectively reduced their liability exposure at the cost of compromising safety. Particularly in “one percent states” (see explanation below), selected school districts effect this trade-off by bastardizing school bus crossing procedures – requiring outbound students to cross to the