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Iowa DOE Testing School Bus Sensors Designed to

Keep Kids Safe Student transporters in three Iowa school

districts are testing new technology that may offer added protection to children in the “danger zone” around school buses. Te Janesville Consolidated School

District was the first to install child- detection sensor systems on its buses, in response to the tragic death of fifth-grader Justin Bradfield, who was hit and killed by his school bus in October 2011. Janesville student Emily Halbach then

hatched a school project that eventually grew into the Smile BIG Foundation, which has raised thousands to cover the cost of the sensor systems. State Director Max Christensen told

STN the pilot project will last until the end of the school year. Tree school districts — Janesville, Mason City and Spencer — are

testing the Student Detection System by Rostra and the Safe Zone (formerly CARE) system by National Patent Analytics Systems. For this project, sensors were placed in several, hard-to-see areas around each bus, such as by the wheels, that trigger an alarm if they detect a child within four feet of the vehicle. At the end of this month, officials at the

participating school districts will fill out comprehensive forms to provide feedback and submit them to Christensen. “It’s up to me and the Maintenance and Inspection Council to look at the results to


School districts statewide can now specify alternative

fuels, especially CNG, for their school buses after Gov. Gary Herbert signed SB 275 into law on March 28. Te bill also provides $5 million annually for the cost of building alt-fuel infrastructure. Murrell Martin, state director of student transportation at the Utah Office of Education, said the new law removes obstacles identified during a January alternative-fuel symposium. There, the governor’s energy advisor, Cody Stewart, heard from Utah Association for Pupil Trans- portation President Danny Cowan that the main concern preventing school districts from converting is the roughly $26,000 cost difference between purchasing a new CNG bus and a diesel bus. Martin said other challenges include the availability of CNG- or propane-fueling stations and the safety of these fuels. SB 275 also directs the Public Service Commission to im- mediately explore options for advancing alternative fuels and to provide a cost-recovery mechanism for a gas corporation that pays for natural gas fueling stations. A report from the PSC is due to the governor and legisla- tive committees by Sept. 30.

determine if this is something we want to approve or not,” he said. Christensen pointed out that HF 188 to

require child detection systems on every bus in the state died in the House in March. Meanwhile, the Iowa Department of

Education transportation office announced that Joe Funk took over as a new state school bus inspector, replacing Owen Freese, who retired at the end of December.

NTSB to Release Final Report on Fatal N.J.

School Bus Crash Tis Year

Tough the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released scores of documents on last year’s tragic school bus crash in Chesterfield, N.J., a spokesman said investigators would probably not issue its final report until later this year. Te data includes more than 1,300 pages of reports and records, such as witness interviews and crash-scene photos. Te crash occurred when a school bus and a dump truck

collided in a four-way intersection. According to the NTSB accident summary, on Feb. 16, 2012, a 2012 International lap belt–equipped school bus transporting 25 students was traveling northbound before entering the intersection with Borden- town-Chesterfield Road, while a 2004 Mack dump truck carry- ing asphalt was traveling eastbound. Te front of the Mack truck struck the left rear of the school bus, spinning the bus around and into a traffic light pole. One student passenger suffered fatal injuries, and the school bus

driver and 15 student passengers sustained minor to serious injuries. Police issued motor vehicle citations to both drivers and

the trucking company. Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Joel Bewley said the office is awaiting NTSB’s final report to decide whether further charges are warranted.

24 School Transportation News May 2013

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