Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

KANAWHA SCHOOLS ; Bus-Safety Extensions Hit 6 Times; Illegal Passing at Stops Plummets by 45-50%

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

KANAWHA SCHOOLS ; Bus-Safety Extensions Hit 6 Times; Illegal Passing at Stops Plummets by 45-50%

Article excerpt

Although they've only been on 10 school buses in Kanawha County since the academic year began last month, drivers already have struck the new 6-foot-long bus-stop arm extensions six times, the school district's executive transportation director says. However, Brette Fraley said his drivers have reported that the extensions are effective, reducing illegal passes of stopped buses by 45 percent to 50 percent over last school year. He plans to buy the 10 arms that Lewisville, North Carolina-based Bus Safety Solutions gave Kanawha for a test run.

The company also provided 10 arm extensions each to Cabell and Greenbrier counties. West Virginia Department of Education spokeswoman Kristin Anderson said the department expects to release results of the pilot study next week.

In the spring, as part of a regular report to the department, Kanawha County recorded 90 illegal passes on a single day tested, Cabell reported 35 and Greenbrier reported eight.

Anderson said the department, which must approve bus specifications across the state, already has OK'd allowing the school districts in the pilot program to buy the extensions they've been using. She said that, because it's seeing favorable results, the department plans to allow all districts to decide whether to purchase and install the extensions, which are called Bus Crossing Guards.

She said requiring the extensions, which cost $950 apiece, would be an "unfunded mandate.

The department has requested that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin include $500,000 in his proposed 2016-17 state budget to help fund bus-stop arm extensions and additional cameras that are meant to photograph the license plates and drivers of vehicles that illegally fail to stop for school buses.

Officials also are working out some mechanical issues with the extensions. Brad Zabel, vice president of marketing and sales for Bus Safety Solutions, said the air pressure device that pushes out the arms might need to be adjusted to account for factors like the increased weight and the incline of certain routes, although he expects to get more details from the department soon. He said his company began selling the extensions last year, and that they're used in eight North Carolina counties, so far. …

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