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DRIVING THE INDUSTRY SINCE 1991 Espar Bus ad_Layout 3 10/2/12 1:25 PM Page 1

world, indicated the longest a child has been left on a bus in Indiana, at least that he was aware of, is approximately four hours. “Granted, it is not a good thing when

a parent has to be notified their child has been left on a bus. Tank goodness, we’ve not had anything tragic happen yet, but it only takes once. We need to get a handle on them and fix them,” LaRocco said. “We deal in ones and twos with child safety. We transport 8 billion kids a year (nationwide) and, about 18 are killed on and around the bus each year. When it happens, everyone feels it, and we work on it. We just have to keep working to get better. “We teach that the focus has to change. It has to be, ‘I know I left a child on the bus and I have to find that child’,” LaRocco said. Options ranging from adopting a

different mindset to installing the latest child detection equipment can make a difference, said both LaRocco and Gor- don Both, who owns an Ontario, Canada, company that manufacturers child detec- tion systems. Both and his partner Allan Lowe launched the Child Check-Mate System after a driver in his bus fleet left a child on a bus in 1993. “She was a very conscientious driver. We wanted to help someone like her and prevent an honest mistake from happening,” Both ex- plained. “When you get back to the yard and shut off the bus, our brain works to say the day is done. We wanted something to remind the driver to go to the back of the bus.” Child detection systems include a num- ber of methods to prompt drivers to con- duct a thorough bus check and have evolved over the years to include motion detectors and instant text alerts. Lowe manufactured the first 60 systems in his basement before sales took off. With the system current in more than 230,000 buses and new installations averaging 1,200 per month. “It’s a driver-friendly piece of equipment.

It protects children, reduces litigation for companies and districts, saves drivers’ jobs and saves retraining costs,” Both said. School officials around the world are in-

creasingly showing interest in child detection devices because “it’s definitely a worldwide concern.” Child Check-Mate, which was invited to China last year, was among the participants at last month’s school transpor- tation summit in the United Arab Emirates. Te National Association for Pupil Trans- portation co-sponsored the event with the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority. While child detection systems work well,

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LaRocco and Both agreed lapses are still possible because of the human factor. “It’s important to understand this is a

driver’s aid, and although technology is still evolving, as a bus driver myself I know the search is still my responsibility,” Both added. LaRocco said detection systems “do work

well because they do get the driver to the back of the bus,” but that’s not enough. Drivers must always take responsibility for

the children in their care and that means “taking the extra 30 or 40 seconds at the end of the run to make sure no child is still on the bus,” he insisted. Still, the risk of accidentally leaving chil-

dren behind won’t disappear any time soon. “All we can do is keep working at it and

working at it and working at it,” LaRocco concluded. 

...while buses IDLE away time – and money!

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