Illinois lawmakers vote to allow new method to improve safety around school buses

CHICAGO (CBS) – They’re designed to prevent drivers from going around school buses, but they’re currently outlawed in Illinois.

CBS 2’s Lauren Victory reported that could soon change.

Ashley Muncy strapped in and took off on her early morning route with CBS 2 following behind. We wanted to see firsthand how other drivers react to a flashing piece of plastic that attaches to her bus stop sign.

"I think something bigger and brighter to try to grab your attention was the thought process behind it," said Kim Crooper, the transportation supervisor for Leyden High School.

They’re called extended stop arms. Leyden High School District 212 bought enough for the whole fleet to cut down on cars maneuvering around their buses.

"For the safety of our students, which is always number one, let’s invest in these," Cropper said.

Shortly into a trial run this winter, the state put a stop to the district’s new device.

"There was no legislation that actually permitted these," said Trevor Clatfelter, co-owner of Bus Gates.

Clatfelter’s Bus Gates makes the extended stop arm. They’ve sold more than 1,000 products at trade shows across the U.S. Ironically, the Illinois-based company couldn’t count on customers from the home state for years.

"When the stop sign goes out from the school bus, it can only stick out so far," Clatfelter said.

He lobbied to amend those Illinois rules. S.B. 2340 passed earlier this month, allowing the installation of extended stop arms.

"This is really a no-brainer," Clatfelter said. "It’s a child safety initiative. It’s definitely proven to work."

That’s what the salesman said. CBS 2 also spoke with a customer.

George Davis, the fleet manager at Fayette County Schools in Georgia, said he couldn’t give a scientific analysis of his Bus Gates experience.

But he said anecdotally, "I have drivers who say, ‘Wow, the problem’s going away,’ and I have others that, you know, it’s reduced it but not solved it."

As for CBS 2’s own social experiment, we noticed the Bus Gates caused cars on the opposite side of the street to hit the breaks.

As a reminder, "on a four-lane road, only the traffic going in the same direction has to stop," Cropper said.

It’ll be an adjustment for everyone, including Muncy who had to practice leaving three extra feet when stopping.

Bus Gates were reinstalled after the bill passed, just before school let out for the summer.

Technically the extended arms bill isn’t law just yet in Illinois. It still needs to be signed by Gov. JB Pritzker.

Bus Gates anticipates several other districts will follow Leyden’s lead, so drivers should probably keep an eye out for them.

Region: Chicago,Local,City: Chicago

via Syndicated Local – CBS Chicago

May 26, 2023 at 06:47PM

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