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years to replace all of their buses,” he said. Lauria suggested that school districts look for alternative methods of obtaining school buses, such as leasing or financing, to keep their fleets younger and their costs lower. He said even though some fleets are older, student safety is just as important in those districts. “In student transportation, no stone is left unturned,” Lauria

said. “I’m not saying older fleets are unsafe. Tose repair costs are higher, because those school districts do strongly believe student safety is their most important concern. No expense will be spared on the repair side to keep those buses safe for students to ride in.”

WHAT ELSE IS NEW? Stop-arm violations, or at least student fatalities resulting from them, are at epidemic levels so far this school year. Much of it can be attributed to distracted driving, and ignorance of the laws regarding school buses that are stopped to load or unload students. But help may be on the way. Danny Ringer, a former jewelry store owner, developed the pro-

totype of an extended stop arm system that he hopes will get the attention of motorists approaching school buses from the front, rear and side. Te system has a smaller stop arm that deploys from the rear of the bus, and a longer stop arm that deploys from the

front of the bus—so there are up to three stop signs with flashing red lights. Ringer got the idea three years ago, after he inadvertently ran a stop arm from the side, because he didn’t see the sign. “Te same day those kids were killed in Indiana, we installed a

prototype of two stop arms on a school bus in Louisiana,” Ringer said. “We’re close to getting all the kinks worked out and it should be ready in January.”

Ringer posted a video of the stop arm in action on his company’s

Facebook page that received 25,000 likes in one month. “Trans- portation directors from all over the United States and Canada have contacted me about installing the stop arm on their buses,” Ringer said. “I also talked with insurers who called my stop arm a preventative device, but said any discounts would depend on the underwriters.”

Ringer said stop arm cameras are fine and can be added to his patent, but cameras don’t prevent vehicles from running through the stop arm. “Cameras are good, because they identify who ran over a child, but my stop arm is designed to prevent that from ever happening. It won’t stop it all, but I am hoping to reduce the incidence by 70 to 80 percent. My main goal is to save kids’ lives,” he concluded. ● 37

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