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National School Bus Safety Week: Prevention

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Lets talk about something that is near and dear to every Road Warriors heart proper etiquette around school buses. If you are not aware of these protocols, learn them. If you know them, read them again! School Bus Safety Week (Oct. 19-23) is here again so listen up. Its when we give a weeks worth of attention to practices that need to be observed year round.

Fact 1: Statistics prove school buses are the safest form of motorized ground transportation on the planet for children.

Fact 2: Getting on and off the safest form of motorized ground transportation on the planet for a child is the most dangerous part of a childs travel day.

The penalty for carelessness around school buses is measured in childrens lives and lifelong guilt and remorse for the offending drivers.In the United States an estimated 500,000 times every school day, drivers illegally pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload students with its stop arm extended and its red and yellow warning lights flashing a desperate message. And each year roughly about a half dozen children, the majority from 5 to 8 years of age, succumb to errant drivers who fail to heed that desperate message. Many more are seriously injured.

Parents complain to educators who complain to state lawmakers who respond by passing laws that call for stiffer penalties and facilitate prosecution as a way to prevent motorists from running through stop arms. Traditionally these laws are reactionary and bear the names of children killed by stop arm violators.Despite these heightened penalties, stop arm violations have remained at epidemic proportions nationwide. The prosecute-to-prevent model has not lived up to its promise for a number of reasons. The prosecution model is flawed on its face when it comes to stop arm violations because it you have to prosecute, that means that something bad has already happened the worst of which is a child has been injured or killed. To date prosecution has not brought any children back to life.

So far this calendar year, six children have been killed by errant drivers while boarding or exiting their school buses. One was a teenager and the others were from 5 to 8 years old. None of the motorists will do any jail time. A North Carolina judge opted for supervised probation for a 60-year-old woman who struck and killed the 16-year-old in January saying the worst punishment for the driver was her feeling of remorse and no court punishment could be worse than that. A new law that becomes effective Dec. 1, 2009 and carries increased penalties bears the name of the 16-year-old.  Also in North Carolina the son of an 83-year-old woman who struck and killed a 6-year-old girl as she exited her school bus in August said his mother wondered how she could go on living knowing she had killed a child. The majority of these people are normally good citizens who became distracted for just a second. And North Carolina has one of the best school bus safety awareness programs in the country.

That is why the efforts of an Arizona-based company that develops school bus safety technologies are so important. Intelligent Imaging Systems LLC has used prevention as the guiding principle of its research and development activities during the past five years. The result is a suite of radar-based safety solutions designed to anchor local prevention and violation detection programs developed by state and district level transportation officials. IIS protects children by preventing motorists from running through stop arms. This is accomplished with a radar activated warning system that gets motorists attention with strobe lights and rotating beacons that jolt drivers out of their daydreams and calls their attention to the big yellow object in front of them. A Data Collection Module that records violations on problem routes will help school transportation officials and law enforcement know where to deploy resources. Bus drivers will now have visual evidence to support their claims to law enforcement that some routes are serious problems. IIS also has a violation detection system that uses cameras to help law enforcement identify those drivers that just wont pay attention. The IIS philosophy of prevention first is an approach that will enable lawmakers to enact legislation that will allow school districts to take advantage of the available and emerging technology to protect the lives of students without having to go to court. More information concerning this groundbreaking prevention technology is available by contacting IIS at

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