Mandatory crossing gates on newly school buses manufactured after Jan. 1 are among new safety requirements for student transporters statewide.
The crossing gates force students to walk further out in front of the bus when crossing the street so drivers can better see them, especially smaller students. The Minnesota crossing gates must be mounted at the right front corner of the front bumper and automatically activate when the bus is stopped for loading and unloading with its red, flashing lights and stop arm activated.
To date, crossing gates are not required by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards but are left up to state decision. The National School Bus Specifications & Procedures manual that is ratified every five years at the National Congress on School Transportation recommends that all buses be equipped with crossing gates, and the new Missouri specifications adopted the recommendations passed at the 2010 NCST. The next NCST meeting is scheduled for May 2015 on the campus of the University of Central Missouri.
Additionally, Minnesota now requires auxiliary fans on school buses manufactured after Dec. 31. Fans for the left and right sides of the windshield must be installed in locations where they can be adusted "for maximum effectiveness" and must not obstruct the driver's vision to any mirror. Type A buses may be equipped with just one fan. Fan blades are required to be no more than six inches in diameter and must be covered by a protective cage. Each fan must also be controlled by a separate switch.
Meanwhile, new buses with factory-installed or retrofitted suveillance systems after Dec. 31 and cameras mounted at the mid-bus location must be parallel to a seat back. The cameras must also not have any sharp edges, cannot extend outward more than three inches and must be located within 24 inches of the top of the side window.