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INDUSTRY CONNECTIONS: SPECIAL REPORT


students. School buses are required to be equipped with stop signal arms to reduce the likelihood of vehicles passing a stopped school bus and striking pedestrians in the vicinity of the school bus,” according to NHTSA. Te statement noted that the agency is not currently


aware of information evaluating the efficacy of the crossing gate, which prompted the Minnesota mandate, or issues relating to its real-world maintenance and use. “So we would be interested in learning about Minneso-


ta’s experience with the devices,” the statement concluded. “NHTSA continues its efforts to reduce school bus-related pedestrian fatalities through education and training to both school bus drivers and the students.” Don Carnahan, vice president of business development


for Zonar Systems and president of the National Associa- tion for Pupil Transportation, indicated that a federal safety standard or other action related to crossing arms “would not be a major rule because it would not have an economic im- pact of more than $100 million” that triggers the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), Congressional Review Act (CRA), the Unfunded Mandates Review Act (UMRA) or any of the executive orders relating to federal rulemaking. However, he added that the estimated $17.5 million na-


tional price tag of a mandate “may, nonetheless, be challeng- ing to justify politically from a cost/benefit standpoint, par- ticularly since I am not aware that NHTSA has ever tested this equipment, which they should do in any event before


they create a new FMVSS.” He also theorized the federal agency may not perceive the


need for another federal mandate because the equipment is already in widespread use. “Separate and apart from that issue, it’s not surprising that the crossing gate or cross arm has become an alterna- tive way to ensure student safety,” he said. “Te equipment buttresses the 12-foot rule of the ‘Walk, Stop, Walk and Stop, Walk and Look’ regimen, which requires students to walk along the side of the road for at least 12 feet until they can see the bus driver. He continued: “If we mean what we say, a crossing arm should not be a substitute for proper training of either drivers or students, especially since it only extends 70 inches from the front of the bus. Crossing arm or not, drivers should not move their bus while any of their passengers are in the danger zone, and drivers should not signal to students that it is safe to cross in front of the bus unless, and until, they are at least 12 feet in front of the vehicle and it is safe for them to follow the recommended crossing procedure.” In Minnesota, the life of a school bus in the often-harsh


weather conditions is 13 to 15 years. However, Coughlin said he expects most of the state’s buses to be fitted with control arms well before the mid-2020s. “Te fact is, a large portion of Minnesota buses are already equipped,” he said. 


40 School Transportation News May 2014


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