Back to school…it’s upon us! The relentless ads, the endless lists of necessary school supplies, the solemn looks on kids’ faces and the knowledge that the long summer days are winding down. For many of us, this is a welcomed transition back to a schedule, back to cooler weather and back to learning. Before we know it, we’ll see those big, yellow buses morning and afternoon…picking kids up and dropping them off. We’ve all heard opinions on both sides of the aisle about the safety of school buses and what can be done to make them even safer. One company hopes to make getting on and off of school buses safer with the Extended Stop Arm.
After two children were killed getting off their respective school buses in Forsyth County, something had to be done. “Robert Geyer was sitting at his kitchen table with his wife discussing the horrible events,” said Mary K. Adams, Director of Business Development for Bus Safety Solutions. “Mr. Geyer hit his fist on the table and said, ‘Someone should do something about this!’ His wife, Laura, put her hand on his shoulder and said, ‘Bob, that somebody might be you!’ So, he went to work to try to figure out a way to protect the kids getting on and off the school bus. He gathered some partners and came up with the Extended Stop Arm. He and the partners fully funded the venture to develop and patent the Extended Stop Arm.”
This is not a minor problem, and the incidences of drivers passing stopped school buses is appalling. “There seems to be a total disregard for passing a stopped school bus,” said Adams. “In North Carolina alone, school buses are passed more than 3,100 times every single school day. Nationally, school buses are passed illegally more than 79,000 times in a single day. The cameras that are installed on the buses provide great detective work in getting the license plate, make and model of the car and maybe a picture of the driver. But, cameras cannot ‘physically’ protect the kids like the Extended Stop Arm. It is my opinion that monies the state is making on illegal passing of a stopped school bus should be put in a fund to go back to the schools to purchase safety equipment for the buses, such as Extended Stop Arms.”
The success of this patented protection is dependent on getting the word out. “Every time we install the Extended Stop Arm, we try to get media involved,” said Adams. “It is very important to educate the public. Protecting our school-bus-riding children should be everyone’s priority. Calls are coming in from all over the country now inquiring about the Extended Stop Arm. My job is to educate, demonstrate and get the school districts on board to install the Extended Stop Arm that is proven to protect children. It is the only safety device that can be added to the outside of the school bus that ‘physically’ protects the kids getting on and off the bus. It exceeds the Federal Standard 571.131 for school bus pedestrian safety devices and extends six-and-a-half feet into the adjacent lane of traffic. The visibility is amazing, and it truly aids the bus drivers in doing their most important job—keeping the kids safe.”
Currently, the Extended Stop Arm is installed in 21 counties in North Carolina and now is being used in six states. North Carolina is leading the way with nearly 400 Extended Stop Arms installed and is setting the standard for school bus safety excellence nationwide. While this added safety measure seems like a no-brainer, getting it approved for Forsyth County school buses is not easy. “Our company was founded due to children being hit and killed in Forsyth County getting on and off the school bus,” said Adams. “We have made many efforts with the Forsyth County School Transportation Department, we have presented to the Assistant Superintendent and Director of Operations, and we have contacted the school board members. Readers who have children or know of children who ride the school bus are encouraged to speak up about getting the Extended Stop Arm on Forsyth County school buses. You can help by calling the Forsyth County School Transportation Department, the Forsyth County School Board, members of the City Council and your state representatives. Most school systems can afford the Extended Stop Arm, but some cannot. The state can provide help with reimbursement from time to time. However, it is important for the counties to add monies in their budget for the Extended Stop Arm year after year. Fundraisers, donations and direct gifts to the schools can also be an avenue to get the Extended Stop Arm on your school bus. I believe, if the Extended Stop Arm can save just one child, it is worth it, no matter what the cost!”
For more information about Bus Safety Solutions and the Extended Stop Arm, call Mary K. Adams at 336.671.0838, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.bussafetysolutions.com.