As the new year beckons, we take a look back at the most read articles from the past 12 months. What's your opinion? These articles are ranked in descending order based on the highest number of views. Do you think there were more important articles that readers missed out on? Let us know.
#1 Study Finds Other Drivers Cause Most School Bus Accidents in New York
After analyzing three years’ worth of bus–related traffic records in New York state, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle had some good news for the student transportation industry: The majority of school bus accidents are caused by other motorists.
While the researchers tallied more than 3,900 bus-related accidents between July 2010 and May 2013 statewide, the term “accidents” encompasses passengers bruised by hard braking and minor fender-benders as well as more serious crashes. The total number of actual crashes was 2,783 in that time frame.
Of this total, 1,540, or 55 percent were considered “preventable.”
#2 Sanchez-Fuentes to Leave Office of Head Start
Yvette Sanchez Fuentes (pictured at left) announced she is stepping down as director of the Office of Head Start (OHS) after four years at the helm, during which she oversaw sweeping reforms to improve the quality of education for the nation's low-income preschoolers.
Sanchez Fuentes' resignation is effective Nov. 22. She has since been replaced by Acting Director Ann Linehan.
Mark Greenberg, the acting assistant secretary for Administration of Children and Families, said Sanchez Fuentes and her staff designed the reforms of how Head Start agencies must compete for funding based on the quality of their programs, which includes transportation service to and from centers.
#3 Update: Slain Alabama Bus Driver Laid to Rest; Student Rescued After Culprit Is Killed
The standoff in Midland City between multiple law enforcement agencies and a man suspected of boarding a school bus, shooting and killing the driver and taking a student hostage is over, according to news reports. An explosion occurred Monday at a make-shift bunker, and the child has been reportedly rescued and was taken to a hospital but appeared "OK."
Media outlets reported that a loud explosion was followed by gunfire in or near the underground shelter where suspect Jimmy Lee Dykes had held a 5-year-old student hostage since the afternoon of Jan. 29.
#4 Q&A: Industry Veteran Discusses Special Needs Securement, Policy
While safety is the primary goal of all student transportation professionals, those in charge of designing seating and securement systems for students with special needs have a particularly challenging road.
With the Transporting Students with Disabilities and Preschoolers National Conference just days away, STN took the opportunity to touch base with Connie Murray, president of E-Z-ON Products Inc. of Florida, who has more than 30 years of experience serving special needs children and ensuring their school bus ride is just safe as it is for typical peers.
#5 Atlantic Express Shutting Its Doors After Failed Union Negotiations
A month after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, 40-year-old school bus contractor Atlantic Express is ceasing operations by the end of the year after a New York City union rejected a labor contract the company's lender required to continue financing.
The union vote by members of the Amalgamated Transit Union 1181-1061, AFL CIO on Wednesday rejected the reduced wages offered by Atlantic Express that spokeswoman Carolyn Daly said were necessary to keep the company solvent.
#6 FMCSA Hits Home Stretch on Sleep Apnea Rule for Commercial Drivers
A representative of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last week told a room of commercial vehicle operators, including school buses, that a proposed federal regulation on sleep apnea is imminent and will be released "hopefully soon."
Jack Van Steenburg, FMCSA chief safety office and assistant administrator, keynoted a breakfast held during the inaugural Zonar Systems "ZONE" user conference in San Antonio, Texas. He called the upcoming guidance "significant" and said it would be similar in scope to recommendations made in April by the Medical Review Board.
#7 TSA Guidance Addresses Potential of Active Shooters, IEDs
The Transportation Security Administration released unclassified bulletins that provide guidance specifically to commercial vehicle operators on how to identify potential active shooters and presence of IEDs, as well as recommended countermeasures for such attacks.
The Risk Reduction Section of TSA's Highway and Motor Carrier Branch issued the "Attack Method Awareness Bulletins" earlier this week to provide security-related information that may be used for security planning purposes.
In its guidance on active-shooter scenarios, TSA defines an active shooter as a person or persons who appear to be using firearms, in most cases, to actively engage in killing or attempting to kill others in a populated area.
#8 Driver Met Requirement for Reporting School Bus Beating Caught on Tape, Says Florida District
A severe beating dished out by three 15-year-old boys on a 13-year-old boy captured on school-bus surveillance footage has resulted in public outcry over perceived inaction by the school bus driver.
But Pinellas County Schools, the former employer of veteran driver John Moody who retired shortly after the July 9 incident, said he followed district policy.
District spokeswoman Melanie Parra told School Transportation News that policy dictates bus drivers are required to immediately contact dispatch via their two-way radios in the event of any physical altercation between students on board the bus.
#9 NTSB Cites Driver Fatigue, Improper Seat-Belt Use Among Causes of Fatal School-Bus Crash
The National Transportation Safety Board outlined investigators' findings and called for change in a board meeting covering newly released highway accident reports on two fatal bus collisions: the first in Chesterfield, N.J., on Feb. 16, 2012, and the second in Port St. Lucie, Fla., a month later.
Each accident resulted in the death of one child passenger and caused severe injuries to others on the bus, including the driver.
“These two school bus crashes were similar in several respects,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman in her opening remarks on July 23.
#10 NASDPTS Alters Its Support of Three-Point Lap/Shoulder Seat Belts on School Buses
NASDPTS changed its formal stance on the installation and use of three-point lap/shoulder seat belts on school buses from supporting them only if funding is available to fully championing them, regardless if districts have money or not, in a forthcoming position paper.
Max Christensen, president of NASDPTS and executive officer of school transportation for the Iowa Department of Education, made the formal statement on the third day of the association’s conference held in Grand Rapids, Mich. He stressed the group is neither recommending the installation and use, nor asking that lap-shoulder belts be required on school buses.