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The Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA) is a non-profit association providing advocacy, education and legislative consultation services to the owners of school bus fleets, school boards/transportation consortia and supplier/manufacturer companies across Ontario.  
November 11, 2015 - Issue 23

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Inside this Edition:
  1. P.R.I.D.E. Program to Offer Fleet Signing Authority (SA) - Recertification Course
  2. OSBA and ISBOA Send Joint Letter to Transportation Minister Del Duca in Support of Ontario "Eight-Lamp" Warning System
  3. Promoting Respect On The School Bus
  4. OSBA Needs Your Ideas NOW for 2016 OTE
  5. Order Your OSBA Publications Now!
  6. NHTSA Wants 3-Point Seat Belts On All Buses
  7. Upcoming Events
P.R.I.D.E. Program to Offer Fleet Signing Authority (SA) - Recertification Course

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has announced that the P.R.I.D.E Program is an approved course provider to deliver a fleet Signing Authority (SA) recertification course. MTO has begun issuing letters to SA’s that must recertify in order to retain their signing authority privileges.  Some SA’s are required to certify as early as January 2016.  MTO system generated notifications are sent out to both Recognized Authorities (RA’s) and SA’s who are required to complete their recertification course in the early to mid-part of 2016. SA’s who fail to complete a recertification course by the due date will be suspended and will not be eligible to train and test drivers under the MTO Driver Certification Program (DCP). 
 
P.R.I.D.E.’s Recertification course will involve one full day of classroom training, plus pre-course study/preparation work.  Course dates and fees have yet to be confirmed, but the first course is expected to be scheduled in early January.  SA’s whose recertification deadline date occurs before the first available P.R.I.D.E Program course offering can obtain an extension from MTO, provided they are scheduled to take the course.
 
The P.R.I.D.E. Program's SA Recertification course will focus on principles and techniques in effective adult education in a commercial vehicle driver trainer context as well as an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a Signing Authority. The one-day classroom component will require SA’s to demonstrate their adult education and training proficiency through short presentations on a pre-assigned commercial vehicle related topic.  The recertification is valid for a period of five years.  
 
Watch for further information on P.R.I.D.E’s Recertification Program coming soon!
OSBA and ISBOA Send Joint Letter to Transportation Minister Del Duca in Support of Ontario "Eight-Lamp" Warning System

Last week, OSBA and ISBOA sent a joint letter to Ontario’s Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca recommending that Ontario should establish a future date in legislation at which time Ontario’s school bus fleet would switch over to the “eight-lamp” (amber-red) warning light system.  Our letter pointed out that the eight-lamp system has become the standard school bus warning light system across Canada and the United States and those other jurisdictions have long recognized its advantages. In Canada, only Saskatchewan and Ontario still have laws that require red overhead advance warning lights.  Saskatchewan just recently announced they intend to amend their legislation to adopt the eight lamp system.  Elsewhere in Canada and across the USA (with the exception of Wisconsin), the advance warning lights are amber in colour.  Amber lights give a clearer indication to other motorists that the bus has not yet stopped, but rather is about to stop.  With the eight-lamp system, when the bus stops and the driver opens the door, the amber advance warning lights are automatically extinguished and the red warning lights begin to flash.

Our letter pointed to the findings of a Transport Canada study that compared the effectiveness of the “all red” warning light system to the eight-lamp (amber-red) system. The study found that amber advance warning lights resulted in fewer passing violations, are more effective at reducing speed of oncoming traffic (particularly on multi-lane roads and in urban areas), and allowed a greater number of motorists to safely pass the bus during the advance warning phase suggesting better traffic fluidity in motorist responses.

Our letter reminded the Minister that the school bus stopping rules are not well understood by many Ontario motorists. When meeting a school bus, many drivers intuitively interpret the red advance warning lights as a signal to stop and this can catch other drivers off guard.  With the eight-lamp (amber-red) system, the red lights don’t come on until the bus is stopped, at which point it is a clear violation to pass the bus – making public education/messaging simple – “RED means STOP” (presently in Ontario – red means stop only if the bus is stopped – it’s OK to pass if the bus is still moving).  A switchover of Ontario’s school bus fleet to the eight-light system will help police more effectively enforce the school bus stopping laws.

Our letter explained that setting a date in legislation for the switchover to occur needs to take into consideration the number of older “four-lamp” buses (typically pre model year 2003) that would require substantial retrofitting. School buses manufactured to the CSA D250-03 Standard typically have “eight-lamp ready” wiring and flasher mechanisms which require only a change of the inboard red lenses to amber lenses.  As each year passes, fewer “four-lamp” system buses will be in use and the economic impact of a switchover will affect fewer operators and fewer buses.

We expect our letter to Minister Del Duca will result in the start of consultations between MTO staff and the school bus industry to eventually arrive at a mutually agreeable switchover date.  Setting the date in legislation will ensure it happens, which will benefit road safety, and will allow school bus operators time to plan and manage their fleet in such a way as to minimize switchover costs.

OSBA and ISBOA will be conducting a survey of their bus operator members in the near future to get a sense of the number of older “four-lamp” system buses that stand to be impacted by a switchover to the eight-lamp system.
Promoting Respect On The School Bus

Written By: School Transportation News (STN)
Article Date: November 6, 2015


Bullying has been making headlines around the globe, and it affects kids in and out of the classroom.  When bullying occurs on the school bus, not only does it harm children, it can distract drivers.  Gina Crump, a former school counselor and character education professional from Missouri, decided to take matters into her own hands to address these issues. As the creator of the ZoeBus, Crump educates students and bus drivers on things like respect and behavior management in order to reduce these behaviors.

Crump told STN that during her time as a school counselor, she had many students come to her with stories of bullying on the school bus.

“Before I knew any better, I remember thinking, ‘What are these drivers doing? Why aren’t they doing anything to stop this bullying that’s happening?’” she said. “The more I learned, I realized how big of a challenge drivers have. We ask them to discipline kids the same way we ask teachers. But teachers only have 25-30 kids at a time, and they’re facing kids. What about drivers who have twice as many kids and they can’t look at them? It’s just this huge challenge they have before them.”

As a character educator, Crump did training sessions with school bus drivers and offered tips on how to promote good character on the bus, as well as manage difficult behaviors. But she soon realized that while she often interacted with school bus drivers on a regular basis, she really had no idea what it was like to drive a bus. This led to an idea that would eventually spur the development of the ZoeBus.

In order to see for herself what it was really like to drive a school bus, Crump took an early retirement from her work as a counselor and educator, got her commercial driver’s license and drove a school bus for a local district for a year.

“I always tell people that as a school counselor, I had to have some pretty tough conversations with people, as you can imagine. But nothing prepared me for the job of being a bus driver. That was definitely the hardest thing I have ever done,” she said with a laugh.

Her experiences as a driver helped her understand just how difficult, and sometimes under appreciated, the work of a school driver is. She also realized that the behavior of student passengers could also play a role in overall safety.

“The kids, they were responsible for their words and actions, and their behavior is either helping the bus driver or distracting the bus driver and potentially making the ride unsafe,” Crump said.

The idea for the ZoeBus was born soon after. Crump decided to dig into her savings and buy a 1997 Blue Bird bus and retrofit it to become, as she calls it, a “rolling classroom.” The bus was retrofitted with drop-down video monitors, a new paint job, and what Crump describes as “fancy wheels and wide single tires in the back.”

“I just wanted a unique way to teach these important safety habits and safety behaviors and that was the best way I knew how, where kids could come on and practice in the same setting, in the school bus setting,” she said.

A typical lesson for Crump involves about 50 students, and starts outside of the bus. There, Crump tells the kids about the “danger zone” around the school bus and what to do if they drop any of their belongings in that area. Drawing on her background as a character educator, she emphasizes the importance of good character with lessons about respecting the school bus, driver and fellow passengers, and why this is important for overall bus safety.

She says she makes her lessons fun and interactive, incorporating things PowerPoint presentations with fun imagery, fly swatters and other activities.

“I tailor all of my lessons. I try to use whatever terminology district is using. If a district focuses on character words, I’m going to use character words, so the kids are hearing the same language that teachers and all adults are using with them,” said Crump.

So far, Crump has taken the ZoeBus for training sessions in her home state of Missouri, Arkansas and Illinois. But her sessions don’t stop with students. As she did before the ZoeBus, she also trains drivers on things like behavior management.

“What can you do to help that child so you don’t have to remind them 20 times to sit down during the route? I might suggest taking one of your responsible third-graders and having them sit with your squirmy kindergartener and reading a book to them,” adding that this does not make the older child responsible for the other’s discipline, but that it gives them a sense of responsibility, allowing them to feel valued, and the younger child can now have something to direct their attention to.

“I try to think of proactive things that drivers can do where they can avoid raising their voice or taking their eyes off the road,” she said.
OSBA Needs Your Ideas NOW for 2016 OTE

The 2016 Ontario Transportation Expo (OTE) conference and trade show is once again scheduled for April 2016 in Toronto - April 24-27, 2016 with trade show on April 26, 2016 - watch for more details coming soon!
 
Please send OSBA your 2016 topics, ideas and suggestions for student transportation educational business sessions.  The 2015 program can be seen at the following links:
  http://www.ote.ca/pdf/program-at-a-glance.pdf  and http://www.ote.ca/pdf/OTE-Conference-Info-Registration-Pkg.pdf   If a session topic was not included in the 2015 program - let us know so we may include on the 2016 program roster!
 
Looking forward to your feedback and ideas!  If you have any other questions or comments about OTE, please email
 info@osba.on.ca.  It would be wonderful to hear from you!
Order Your OSBA Publications Now!

        
Would you like to order some of our OSBA publications? Visit the OSBA website at
 www.osba.on.ca and click on the "STORE" tab from the home page. You will then be able to select from the various publication options.  Or click on the links below and go directly to the correct order form:
Once you have completed the necessary order form, scan/email your order to info@osba.on.ca or fax to 416-695-9977. 
NHTSA Wants 3-Point Seat Belts On All Buses

Written By: School Transportation News (STN)
Article Date: November 8, 2015


Stopping short of announcing imminent rule making to usher in a national requirement for lap-shoulder seat belts in school buses, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind shared a new federal policy position that the occupant restraints should be available for all schoolchildren to and from school.


Rosekind spoke before a packed audience of NAPT and NASDPTS members during a joint session at the Marriott on Monday that the industry, collectively, needs to embrace a new way of thinking regarding seat belts, namely the three-point variety, that seeks answers to implementation challenges rather than reiterating arguments about why they are unnecessary on school buses. 

“Let me be clear now seat belts save lives,” said the former NTSB Board member, adding that the federal position that school buses as they are current are the safest way students can get to and from school remains unchanged. “Every child on every school bus needs a three-point seat belt.”

He added that the issue should be "utterly non-controversial."

The announcement was similar to new views held by NASDPTS, which reversed its position on seat belts last year by recommending them for all school buses, as long as districts have the ability to absorb additional costs while not displacing student riders and forcing them to find another way to and from school. 

On Oct. 25, NAPT released its latest statement on school bus seat belts, asking NHTSA “to explain clearly and unambiguously to local officials why optional equipment like seat belts should be selected over other available choices that might also improve school transportation safety.” The organization along with NSTA has also called for more scientific research into the efficacy of seat belts.

Rosekind responded, in part, that traffic data tells that story. Namely, he added, half of the 30,000 fatalities recorded each year occur at least in part because of non-use, while 70 percent of all teen fatalities in crashes are tied to not buckling up.

Rosekind laid out a three-step approach that includes in-depth research into this matter and enlisting the help of safety advocates, including those at states that already have school bus seat belt laws. He said he wants governors in California and Texas, where there are laws for three-point seat belts on school buses, and in Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York, where there are laws on two-point lap belts, to appoint representatives to share information on cost challenges that need to be overcome as well as if they think there should be federal rule making.

"To be clear, I'm not announcing rule making today," he told the gathering, adding that mandates aren't only tools available. "(But) how can we not want every child who rides a school bus to have the total safety afforded by three-point belts?"


Read Administrator Mark Rosekind's full remarks to NAPT and NASDPTS

NHTSA is also working with other federal agencies to identify potential funds for states and local school districts. There were no specifics as to where these funds might come from, whether that be as a result of congressional action or Section 402 Highway Safety Grants available from the various U.S. Department of Transportation agencies. For example, does he envision a program similar to NHTSA's "Click It or Ticket" or federal and local campaigns targeting drunk driving? 

Previously, NHTSA’s position dating has been that the decision to install any seat belt system on large buses is best left to the state or local school district because of cost and operational considerations. Additionally, it has held the view that adding lap-shoulder belts to the entire national fleet might only save a couple of more student lives a year.

Rosekind admitted that NHTSA has not always spoken clearly on the subject, but that seat belts are a safety icon and necessary on school buses to improve parents trust in districts’ abilities to get children safely to and from school. He also said this change in mindset will be a challenge, but that it can be positively influenced by focusing on what is possible rather than what is not.

Regarding the new federal position, NAPT Board Member Peter Mannella told Rosekind and the assembly that the organization will work with NHTSA while recognizing the “array of things to work on” and the obstacles remaining tied to “different perspectives” on the issue.

Rosekind also made a point to discuss school bus safety extending beyond the inside of the bus, as more students are killed at the bus stop, as well as walking or biking to school and, of course, as passengers in motor vehicles than as school bus passengers. 

As a result, he added that NHTSA will improve its crash reporting data on school buses to focus on speed and distraction, as well as illegal passers. Rosekind pointed to an agency study of video cameras as deterrent to illegal passers to go along with increased public education of local school bus stop laws.

He also said NHTSA will update its online School Bus Safety page early next year.
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