Columbia man designs addition to school bus stop arm to keep kids safe

Published: Apr. 25, 2019 at 6:19 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - In a WIS investigation, we counted seven drivers fly past a stopped school bus while its stop arm was out in one day.

It’s a nationwide problem that sparked an idea for Glennah Hart, who has a goal to send a more obvious message to motorists to hit the brakes.

“It’s been happening for years and years and it’s something that I wanted to address,” Hart said.

For four years, Hart has been working on a new addition that attaches to the already existing school bus stop arm.

The new addition adds a 2-foot-tall police officer holding another stop sign.

“I wanted to put the law enforcement presence on the stop sign because when motorists see that, then that would make them very aware,” Hart said. “When law enforcement is present for an example when we’re traveling down the road with motorists and we see those blue lights that are on the police cars that makes us as citizens and motorists immediately want to check our speed and make sure we’re doing the right thing.”

But will this addition make divers follow the law and stop for the bus?

“It’s visible and I think it’ll make people pay attention when they think that someone is watching them,” one Columbia resident said.

Others say the problem will still exist regardless of what’s added.

Cynthia Hall, a Columbia resident said, “If the stop sign does not get their attention I don’t think adding a police officer is going to make any more difference than that. The stop sign is what catches my eye, that’s what you’re trained for when you take your driver’s test.”

Regardless, Hart says it’s a mission worth fighting for.

“I understand what each and every parent goes through every day as they send their children off concerned about will they get home safely? Will they get to school safely?” Hart said. “That’s the very passion that drives me to think with the innovative mind that I have to do the new redesign school bus stop sign.”

Right now the design is not implemented in any school districts.

Hart says he’s been working on a pilot program with Marlboro County in the Pee Dee area to install about 10 to 30 of the additions on school buses.

According to Hart, he is waiting on production costs but is hopeful the idea will be implemented before the next school year.

“If it saves one child’s life and it deters one motorist from going around a school bus at any given time than it has done its job,” Hart said.

WIS reached out to the district for comment, but the district has not gotten back to us.

We also reached out to the S.C. Department of Education on their thoughts of Hart’s product.

The department would not comment on the product itself, however Ryan Brown, a spokesperson for the S.C. Department of Transportation told WIS in a statement:

“We are running a similar pilot on about 30 buses in Richland and Lexington counties. These buses have been equipped with a stop arm which extends about 6 feet out from the side of the bus. It has flashing lights just like the standard arm, which also functions at the same time.”

Do you know when to stop for a school bus?

According to South Carolina Highway Patrol, on a two- or three-lane road, drivers traveling in BOTH directions must stop for a school bus with flashing lights.

On roads with four or more lanes, drivers approaching a stopped school bus from the opposite direction do not have to stop.

The law for two, three, our four-lane roads are the same whether there is a median or not.

So if you are caught breaking the law, and not stopping for the bus, the price you’ll have to pay is pretty hefty.

The minimum fine for passing a stopped school bus:

  • 1st offense: $500
  • 2nd offense: $2,000
  • Both will get you six points on your driving record, and your license will be suspended at 12.

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