DC Circuit Court Holds Oral Argument on Government Appeal of UMA/ABA Lawsuits
On September 23, Judges Kavanaugh, Garland and Williams of the DC Circuit Court held oral argument on the lawsuit involving the charter exemption for King County Metro in Seattle. In June, the District Court held that the provision was unconstitutional and violated both the First and Fifth Amendments. The government appealed the decision. A decision from the appellate court is expected within one to three months.
NSTA Exhibits at ASBO
NSTA recently participated in the Association of School Business Officials Annual Meeting and Exhibits in Florida this past weekend. This is NSTA’s second time participating in this show promoting contracting to the business officials from across the country. Members Bob Pape of Dell Transportation and Paul Losos of Sunrise Bus Group manned the booth with NSTA’s Meeting Planner Jennifer Carroll. Together, they surveyed attendees about their current transportation situation and educated them about the benefits of contracting. The group was able to identify 26 new prospects for conversions! These prospects will be emailed to NSTA members who do business in the prospect’s state for follow up.
Prospects are from the following states and provinces: DE, GA, IL, KS, MB, MN, MS, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SD, VT, WA, WI. To make sure you receive the prospects for the state where you are interested in doing business in, check to see if you are listed for that state in NSTA’s Find A Contractor tool. (http://www.yellowbuses.org/outsourcing/find.aspx)
If you’re interested in learning more about NSTA’s efforts to promote contracting, please contact Danielle Abe at the NSTA Central Office. (800-222-6782 or email@example.com)
The Big Yellow Bus
One of the training requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for employees who operate forklifts is to understand the differences between operating a forklift and operating a car. Likewise, bus drivers need a fundamental understanding of how the size of the school bus requires a different driving approach. School buses, because of their larger size are more difficult to maneuver, especially when backing, turning, and traveling under low overhangs and over some bumps. Improper maneuvering can result in hitting stationary objects, pedestrians, or getting the bus stuck on a rise in the road.
The specific areas of concern noted here include tail swing (both from right and left turns), blind spots, and overhead and underside clearances. The longer length of a bus means it cannot stay in its own path of travel. The rear axle will travel outside of the path that the front wheels take. The amount of tail swing is a function of the bus style (transit style versus standard style), the turning radius, and the distance between the rear axle and the bumper. Blind area will also be a function of the bus style and requires proper mirror adjustment. Even a driver’s height needs to be taken into consideration. Clearance is a function of the buses overhead height, special luggage racks or other underside fixtures, and the terrain on which the bus is operated.
Awareness is the first key to minimizing these issues. Of course drivers can see the difference in the vehicle size but are they aware of how the bus moves within its own path during turns? How much area is blind to their direct vision? Do they know the overhead clearance and understand how certain situations can catch the underside of the bus? Awareness can be heightened through demonstrations.
Using an open lot, some reference lines, and the bus; drivers can practice making right and left turns to see just how far the rear of the bus travels outside of its path. Likewise, replica vehicles or students can be placed around the vehicle in blind spots to show seated drivers what they may be missing. Make sure drivers know just how much height clearance is needed for the bus to proceed safely. Graphic demonstrations are available to demonstrate underside clearance issues.
With this knowledge, drivers should be able to more safely maneuver in areas such as the bus yard where there is stall parking, at intersections where pedestrians and other fixed objects are located, in rural areas where fixed objects and older underpasses may be present, and on terrain that might catch the bus’ underside.
The proper adjustment and use of mirrors is part of training in getting drivers comfortable with the buses overall size. Drivers should understand their adjustment and limitations. With this awareness and training, drivers will be more prepared to drive the big yellow bus.
School Bus Stop Safety Document Available
Selecting School Bus Stop Locations: A Guide for School Transportation Professionals is now available on the NHTSA website. The document outlines steps for the designation of school bus stops and strategies to support safe pedestrian behavior by students between their homes and their bus stops.
Download the document here (pdf file) to help plan your school bus routes and to designate safe school bus stops in your community or school district.
Secretary LaHood Hosts 2nd National Distracted Driving Summit
On September 21st, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood hosted the 2nd National Distracted Driving Summit in Washington DC. The Secretary reviewed the progress last year on this issue, at both federal and state levels, which includes: consideration of laws in 43 states, enactment of texting bans in 30 States and DC, 2 successful enforcement pilot programs in Hartford and Syracuse, creation of FocusDriven, the first national non-profit victims advocacy organization, an Executive Order banning texting by federal employees in government vehicles and on government business, UN ban on texting amongst UN employees, national public service announcements and a Federal website, messaging through the Oprah show, ESPN pre-season NFL focus and X the Text with the Jonas Brothers and Jordin Sparks, adoption of distracted driving policies by over 1600 private companies, and Webster’s dictionary naming “distracted driving” the word of the year for 2009.
The Secretary announced finalization of two federal regulations banning texting of all commercial motor vehicle operators and restricting use of electronic devices by rail operators. He also announced a new proposed rulemaking which would limit commercial motor vehicles from using all mobile devices when transporting hazardous materials.
The commercial motor vehicle texting ban includes private school bus operators and goes into effect October 21st. While home to school transportation is generally exempt, FMCSA felt the impact on safety demanded that school bus operations were included in the texting ban. However, they failed to extend the federal texting ban to publicly owned school bus operations. The 30 States and DC who have texting bans in place at the State level apply to all drivers. The regulation provides that a texting violation is considered a serious violation under the rules leading to driver disqualification.
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis also appeared at the Summit and announced a new push from the Department on employers to have distracted driving policies in place through OSHA.
Supplier Spotlight: SMI
SMI, previously Specialty Manufacturing Company, has been producing safety equipment since the mid-1970’s. With a long history of fabrication, SMI focused their capabilities on designing and manufacturing a simple vacuum operated stop arm. Currently SMI is the industry leader of safety equipment to the transportation industry, with over 5,000 different SKU’s. We continually look to expand our product offerings either by organic growth, as well as through strategic acquisitions.
We have expanded our product line to include stop arms, crossing arms, roof/escape hatches, warning lights, doors, interior paneling, interior lighting, interior luggage racks, floors, and floor coverings. SMI currently has three operating facilities across the U.S. with its main headquarters located in Pineville, North Carolina. We enjoy a vast network of distributors within the U.S. and E.U. that provide service and aftermarket parts. Please visit us online at www.smiglobal.net.