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NHTSA to evaluate cost-effective School Bus Pedestrian Safety Technology like Gardian Angel



Changes are on the horizon for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agrees to evaluate cost-effective innovative technology like the patented Gardian Angel school bus lighting system to keep children safer as they board their school bus and to reduce the nationwide issue of illegally passing of school buses.


Questions brought up on Thursday, November 19, 2020 by attendees of a virtual conference presented by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about NHTSA’s intent in evaluating the Gardian Angel school bus lighting system among other school bus pedestrian safety technology already on the market.



Gardian Angel, LLC and other attendees listened to the responses by NHTSA representatives, Shashi Kuppa and Kristin Rosenthal. Shashi is the Division Chief of the Special Vehicles and Systems Division in the Office of Crashworthiness Standards at NHTSA. Her group is responsible for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards regarding school buses, child restraint systems, motorcoaches, motorcycle helmets, fuel system and fuel container integrity, flammability, electric vehicles, and truck underride guards. Also answering questions was Kristin Rosenthal, Highway Safety Specialist, Safety Countermeasures Division, Office of Research and Program Development, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Gardian Angel school bus lighting system is currently available as optional equipment on school buses in the following 23 states: for AK, AR, AZ, CO, DE, IA, ID, IL, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, NV, NY, OH, TX, VT, WI, WV, WY. Read about the state approvals and more here

Question

When can we look forward to FMVSS updating § 571.131 Standard No. 131; School bus pedestrian safety devices to reflect the changes in technology since we have great systems already in on the market like a well-known school bus pedestrian safety lighting system for example, which is very familiar to those of you at NASDPTS, alongside other forms of current school bus pedestrian safety technology? The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) even reiterated this in their recommendation H-20-11 to NHTSA to evaluate the various technologies such as school bus safety lighting which goes above and beyond study of cameras in the Reducing the Illegal Passing of School Buses Rulemaking by NHTSA.


NHTSA's Response

Shashi Kuppa, "We have to do the research first. I know that school districts have not just one particular countermeasure for illegally passing of school buses. We have to make sure that it is effective. In our cost-benefit analysis we have to pick the alternative that is most effective. We are doing research on this, but it's unfortunate. We should make this a higher priority, but you know recent times have made it somewhat a priority with adding Congress interest on this matter. so we are doing research on this. Hopefully the research shows or can shed some light on which are the most effective alternative measures for illegally passing of school buses. You know, it could be that enforcement is the best approach, and then we have to push for states to have the alternative measure, but I don't know that yet. It could be that the better lighting, so they have started doing research on that right now. That's what I mean."

Question

Additionally, when can we look forward to the language in FMVSS standard 108; Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment to be revised to include particular language as it relates to LED school bus lighting such as the example of this well-known school bus pedestrian safety lighting system? (I ask these questions because of a bill that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives H.R. 2 the Moving Forward Act and H.R. 2218 the Stop for School Buses Act which was introduced in 2019 which mentions reviews of this enhanced lighting for school buses and evaluations of these school bus pedestrian safety devices. It’s important these Federal Standards are revised to incorporate such technology so that bills like these may proceed with fewer setbacks and delays as to prevent future injuries and deaths.)


NHTSA's Response

Shashi Kuppa, "Yeah, so I encourage if you do think there is a certain issues you should submit a petition for them to review or you should come in and talk to NHTSA folks on this. Any petition for rulemaking can be done at your request."

Question

Is NHTSA considering updating NHTSA’s Reducing the illegal passing of school buses : Best Practices Guide, which does not currently promote any pedestrian safety devices in their model solution to provide these existing solutions?


NHTSA's Response

Kristin Rosenthal, "Yes, so part of the goal of the illegal passing of school buses is to be able to update the current guide that is out there."


Published 11/20/2020

Written by: Andrew Gardner, Director of Marketing, Gardian Angel, LLC.

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