Illegal passers of school buses in Ohio be warned: a school district near you could soon begin installing additional LED lights on the back of the yellow vehicles to draw increased attention to the safety of students.
Pete Japikse, state director of student transportation at the Ohio Department of Education, floated the idea as a potential solution to the illegal passing epidemic.
“Pete (Japikse) and the highway patrol came up with the colors (red and white) and chose a flash pattern that is different than the warning lights above,” said Mike Gaborcik, the school bus segment manager at Weldon Lighting, which developed the supplemental lights for the pilot study at several school districts this spring.
The auxiliary lights are installed just above the rear school bus bumper and activate when the school bus stop arm is deployed come on when the stop arm is deployed. The districts that tested the lights told School Transportation News that the new LED lights have led to a decrease in incidents by 60 to 75 percent because they shine directly in motorists' line of vision rather than just 10 feet higher as is the case with the regular flashers.
“I can’t attribute it to anything else," said Paul Stoneking, the director of transportation at Norton City Schools near Akron, one of four districts to take on the four-month pilot project. "The lights are effective because these things are hitting drivers dead on in their eyes. It is so dead on and so dramatic and bright, there is just no way they can’t see it."
At this report, the lights, while approved for school districts, were still in the testing phase and were not yet available on the market. Gaborcik added that Weldon will produce the lights for the market as orders are received.
Read more on this project and the resulting standard in the upcoming August edition of School Transportation News magazine.