NASDPTS updated its logo to reflect this year’s birthday. “We are encouraging all of our event sponsors to include our 50th logo and emphasize that this is our 50th anniversary,” said Michael LaRocco of the Indiana Department of Education, who assumes the association’s presidency when the conference concludes.

NASPDTS state directors and associate members begin proceedings at last year’s annual conference in Columbus, Ohio.

NASDPTS held its second annual conference in Miami. Ever since, the state directors group has grown into a leadership role by collaborating with state and federal regulators, as well as industry professionals, to bring school bus issues to the forefront. Tere have been no bigger efforts than reversing its policy on lap-shoulder seat belts in 2014, and recommending that local school districts voluntarily implement the occupant restraint systems, along with proper usage and training policies, to complete school bus compartmentalization. Ten there is the National Stop Arm Count survey, in its 11th year, to collect a voluntary, one-day report of illegal passers. Tis spring,

108,623 school bus drivers in 38 participating states and the District of Columbia submitted 83,944 total illegal passing incidents. NASDPTS estimated that 15 million illegal passing incidents occur nationwide over an entire school year. “NASDPTS’ role has been in advising or responding to those big events that happened over the years,” said Charlie Hood, the association’s executive director and a former state director for Florida. One of those watershed moments

occurred near Carrolton, Kentucky in 1988, after a wrong-way drunk driver collided head-on with a converted school bus that was transporting 64 passengers, mostly children, home from a church outing to a Cincin- nati amusement park. Te crash and resulting fire killed 27 and injured 34. It is considered the third worst school bus-related fatality in U.S. history and gave rise to MADD. Te converted bus was built two months before NHTSA’s school bus standards went into effect. NHTSA appointed Charles Gauthier to oversee school bus transportation, and tasked him with reviewing existing FMVSS and proposing changes, such as adding emergency exits and increased flammability requirements. Among the public comments submitted in response to NHTSA’s proposed rulemaking were per- spectives and insights from state directors, other than those from

school districts, contractors and the bus OEMs, Gauthier recalled. Some of the names that stood out: Don Carnahan of Washington state, Ron Kinney of California, Linda Arvizu of Arizona, Don Tudor of South Carolina, Pete Baxter of Indiana, and Mike Rosco of West Virginia. “Tose kinds of people really did

provide me with the type of informa- tion I needed to do the job at NHT- SA, of looking at all of these federal standards,” he said. “Tese are state public policy makers who most likely have a much better understanding of what it’s like at the federal level. As a federal public policy maker, what information [do] I need to support what I do or justify what I don’t do?” Gauthier soon began presenting at industry conferences, one of the first being the Western States Conference that brought together state directors from the region, and that Bill Paul and School Transportation News began sponsoring in 1994. Gauthier said he also learned about NASDPTS and its annual conference held each fall. He stopped overseeing school bus FMVSS development in 1992 and took over NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation before retiring two years later. By 1995, NASDPTS hired him as executive director, along with former Delaware state director Harlan “Ted” Tull as administrative director. Meanwhile, NASDPTS realized sustainability by way of an STN article. Paul wrote a column in the September 1994 issue that for the first time provided the nexus between NASDPTS and industry suppliers. Paul suggested that NASDPTS start a Suppliers Council consisting of private companies and manufacturers to support the association’s causes. Te group is similar to a subsidiary of the American Public Transporta- tion Association, which Paul was a member of while serving as editor and publisher of Metro magazine. Member companies pay annual dues, which over the years have helped NASDPTS 63

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