Illegal Passing: Real–Life Successes

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Fayette County (Indiana) School Corporation


Engineering Activities

Fayette is a rural county with one main city, Connerville. Three state highways lead into town. There are quite a few small businesses so traffic from tractor trailer–trucks is fairly heavy on the three highways.

Fayette County School Corporation has 54 bus routes, including the Head Start program. There are numerous bus stops on the state highways, requiring the faster–moving and rush–hour traffic to stop. The School Corporation tries to do routing so that there are only right–hand stops. In fact, in only one instance must a child cross the highway. 

The School Corporation has found that red and amber lights provide adequate warning to motorists in town but on the open highways they are not sufficient. Highway motorists don't see and/or don't stop for the school buses, especially in daylight. Fayette County School Corporation wanted to find a way to get the attention of these motorists.

School bus drivers observed that, on the open highway, motorists took notice of police with alternating flashing headlamps. Recently the option of adding the alternating flashing headlamp system used by police and fire vehicles became available to school buses. Fayette County decided to install three systems on buses whose routes had the most problems with stop–arm compliance.

The results were immediate. The first day, the School Corporation got phone calls. One motorist said, “Wow, I really saw the bus.” Other school bus drivers said, “I want one on my bus. It really gets your attention.”

The results were so successful that Fayette County has installed flashing headlamps on all highway and Head Start buses. In the entire school year there was only one head–on violation, versus three to four a week before the systems were installed.
NOTE: This system works to stop motorists coming head on. There are still problems with motorists coming from behind or from the side.

Education/Awareness Activities

At the start of school, various means are used to distribute the message: "School is in session. Watch out for students getting on and off school buses." PSAs are played on a popular local radio station and information runs on a local cable 
TV station. Vendors who supply the school buses are asked to buy ads 
in newspapers.


Best Practices Guide: Reducing the Illegal Passing of School Buses