|Florida Publishes Position Paper on School Bus Advertising|
|Written by Ryan Gray|
|Friday, 14 January 2011 10:03|
Stating that it opposes advertising on school buses, the Florida Association for Pupil Transportation published a position paper this month that seeks to break-down the issue from the perspective of both sides of the debate.
About a half-dozen states across the country allow some form of advertising on or inside school buses. The FAPT paper adopted on Jan. 5 specifically discusses external billboards erected on school buses. Earlier this month, New Jersey became the latest state to enact a law enabling school districts to turn to school bus advertising as a possible revenue stream.
Florida does not allow external ads on school buses. However, the Associated Press recently included Florida in a list of that states that do allow the advertisements. Charlie Hood, state director of pupil transportation at the Florida Department of Education, explained that the state adopts National School Transportation Specifications & Procedures as passed by the National Congress on School Transportation that prohibits the practice.
"When we asked AP to issue a correction, they refused saying that their statement is accurate because Florida does allow interior advertising, and their statement that Florida is among the states that allow advertising was not specific," he added.
The FAPT points out that today's economy is the biggest reason schools have become interested in school bus advertising as budgets for education related programs continue to shrink. In Florida, the proportion of student transportation costs reimbursed by the state department of education has dropped by 25 percent over the past 15 years. Various programs have been put into place to reduce school transportation costs such as extending walking distances to bus stops, changing school bus rider eligibility requirements, staggering school bell times to allow for tier busing, reducing field or activity trips, and ending optional transportation services for students.
But, FAPT points out, potential safety concerns of school bus advertising outweigh the financial benefits. While admitting that there is as of yet no credible statistics showing how school bus advertising could lead to additional road hazards that could put school bus riders at risk, FAPT states that external ads do present "an inherent risk" that other motorists could take their eyes off the road and other vehicles to read the ads on the side of school buses.
This could especially be the case during student loading and unloading, when motorists are required by law to stop when seeing a school bus with its flashing lamps and stop arm activated. During the 2009-2010 school year, 13 students were killed around the school bus according a preliminary release of data from the annual National School Bus Loading and Unloading Survey.
The National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey found that looking at external objects, which FAPT links to school bus ads, ranks as the third-most prevalent source of driver distraction that can result in a crash.
|Last Updated on Friday, 14 January 2011 12:10|