DeCarlo also found that during incidents of a stu- dent being hit or dragged by the bus, the color of a child’s clothing caused the child to blend in with the pavement or a bus door. Tis, DeCar- lo saw this first hand during on her ownstudies using the conventional school bus with a hood, instead of the transit-style bus with the flat nose and a rear engine. “Conventionals are the

most dangerous because they have a deeper, darker stairwell and the design hinders the driver’s field of vision,” DeCarlo said. “Te most recent student draggings and deaths occurred with this type of bus.” DeCarlo said school districts opt for the conventional bus because it is the least expen-

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sive but the transit style bus offers a better field of vision to the drive. “All in all, it ends with driver training and proper mirror adjustment,” she said. Cassell likes the mirrors but said that putting one’s faith entirely in the mirrors may not be the best answer. He said education is the key. “You already have crossover mirrors and side mirrors,” he said. “You can’t look at every mirror at the same moment in time.” Cassell suggested that bus drivers “count the kids away” from the bus and make sure

they’re accounted for before driving away. “Make sure you know where those kids are,” Cassell said. “If the number is more than seven, don’t pull away as quick. Double check your mirrors and, if there is a doubt, get off the bus and look around.” Cassell offers school districts a free DVD-based training program. He began giving the

program away when the fatality count jumped from five in 2008 to 17 in 2009. He has distributed about 5,000 copies to date. “I’d like to think our actions helped the deaths from 17 to four, but we will never know,” Cassell said. “Tat’s one heck of a reduction.”

California and Chapter 10 Driving behavior around a school bus and rules for loading and unloading students

are covered in Chapter 10 of driver training manuals around the country. California’s manual also includes a provision that requires bus drivers to get out of the bus and escort children in grades 1 through 8 across the street at bus stops. Fischer pointed out that in the past 45 years, 1,229 students have been killed in the danger zone nationwide. Of those fatalities, Fischer said only three happened in Califor- nia. “My recommendation is that every state should adopt California’s rule of escorting kids across the street,” Fischer said. “If that procedure were followed nationwide, we would have 1,229 children playing today.” Cassell agreed. He said 119 children were killed in the Danger Zone during the past

Josh Rice

Dir. of Transportation New Caney ISD, TX

12 years and California accounted for one death. Meanwhile, Georgia has had 19, Texas, 10; North Carolina eight, Florida seven, and Indiana and Pennsylvania totaling six each. He said the telling statistic is that California counts 38 million residents within its bor- ders while Georgia has a population of 9.6 million. Cassell continued saying that 53 of the 119 deaths occurred while the children

were crossing the street. “Tat should be our greatest focus,” he said. “We must learn from our mistakes and create programs and take action to prevent these mistakes from happening again.” 512.686.2360

The Buck Stops Where? Who is ultimately responsible for making sure the Danger Zone becomes less hazard-

ous? Everybody. 54 School Transportation News • MAY 2017 CELEBRATING25YEARS

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