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tv   House Transportation Subcommittee Hearing on School Bus Safety  CSPAN  September 3, 2019 2:10pm-4:00pm EDT

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local cable or satellite provider. c-span, your unfiltered view of government. a look now at the federal role in improving school bus safety. the house transportation and infrastructure subcommittee on highways and transit heard from brenda sue fulton, among others. >> today is a timely hearing with children out of school. to be done toeds keep them safe. >> i'm interested in keeping them safe not only as a get on and off school buses but in
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keeping them safe in the streets as they go to school. it is true that school buses have a relatively safe safety record. thatulton: it is also true children are injured every day or every year in bus related crashes. more than, i believe, and most accidents, we owe it to our children, to the still dunes, to examine why these fatalities occur. -- two these students, to examine why these totality's occur, and what can be done -- why these fatalities occur and what can be done to prevent them. there are school buses in my own district. oft take other modes transportation, including walking, biking or riding in a car, going on public
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transportation. at greatere often risk outside the school bus than inside it. showingfigure sewing -- who died in school transportation related accidents in the last 10 years. struck by a vehicle while walking near the bus. frome going to hear today what congress can do to stop violations by drivers who illegally pass school buses loading or unloading passengers and reducing -- and to reduce fatalities or injuries as a result of these crashes. but as i indicated, i am doerested in what we can whether or not
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they are on or off buses. >> the burden of providing school transportation, we are aware of course falls on the states and local districts. ahead of others in improving school bus safety. we know the state of new jersey which i'm pleased is represented today. i look forward to hearing what congress can do. safelp ensure that we have vehicles. i want to thank each of the witnesses. for appearing today. we will listen attentively. what congress can do recognizing how much of the responsibility falls on the states.
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i am pleased to recognize mr. davis. i'm pleased to recognize mr. davis, our ranking member. >> thank you venom chair. youy will focus on -- thank madam chair. million school25 children to and from school each day. school bus safety is an important part of the discussion. statistics show the school bus is the safest and most regular to vehicle on the road. according to american schoolbus council counsel, children are 75 times more likely to get to school safely taking a bus when compared to walking, biking or traveling by car. ntsa mostsaid,
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recent estimates are that school buses account for roughly 0.4% of traffic totality's on a nationwide basis. no matter how safe statistics show school buses are, we unfortunately see 4-6 children die each year on the school buses. dies result of5 cars passing. each for tally is more than a statistic. this last december -- each for tally is more than it -- each fatality is more than a statistic. we saw an instance where a truck collided with a school bus transporting a local basque about team home from a game in my district -- a lobe -- a local basque about team -- a local basketball team home. it is my hope we can address
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school bus safety and a bipartisan manner that prevents such instances from occurring in the future. this subcommittee has jurisdiction over to agencies that play an important role in school bus safety, ntsa and fmcsa. sarah set standards, provides training, and develops public awareness programs related to school bus safety. establishes rules for commercial drivers licensing and requires school bus drivers to have a cdl with a school bus endorsement. i look for to hearing from our witnesses about ways to make school-age children safer as they wait for, load and unload, and write a school bus. - and ride a school bus. i want to thank our witnesses for being with us this morning and i look forward to hearing your testimony. back to the chair -- i
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yield back to the chair. >> i am pleased to recognize the ranking member, mr. defazio. thank you. this is our second safety hearing of the year leading to reauthorization. the first hearing we heard testimony about highway fatalities, hundred people die every day in motor vehicle accidents per that is a life every 15 minutes. 2017. in we need to look at ways to reduce those totality's. fatalities. obviously we are doing better on
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the transportation of our precious kids on school buses. but it is not perfect. we will hear conflicting testimony today. and i will hope that members of the panel might depart from their prepared remarks and some of those earlier. for example mr. benish from the and sta will come out strongly mandateinst any federal forced seatbelts on school buses. the ntsb will talk about what they see and if felt for a long time and for lap and shoulder. we will hear from chief fulton about how new jersey is doing what others say is not possible because of seek restoration -- seat configuration, size of children, et cetera. that will be an interesting contrast. i think there's more substantial agreement on finding ways to better identify the bad apples. out there, those who have had
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poor driving records or sig. can health issues and other things. significant health issues and other things. there are those who have moved forward with prompt notification. new jersey is on a daily basis. by school bus drivers. looking at the national cdl registry and other things that the federal government does control might provide some benefit in those areas. testimony,ard to the and this will help instruct us on whether or not we need to provisions inw the service transportation reauthorization, which i spec have done by early next year. without i yield back the balance my time. -- with that. you chairman defazio.
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i know the majority leader provide us with information and wants to proceed on infrastructure. perhaps new information that can be included in a bill. i'm pleased to yield my 2.5 minutes to mr. cohen who is had an experience that i think is the best way to lead off this hearing. my good friend from tennessee. there were two schoolbus crashes most notable in the country, one in baltimore and one in chattanooga. 12 children were killed. in chattanooga six children killed and 20 injured. , the ntsbe crashes
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issued a series of safety recordations to the highway traffic safety administration. and that was great. and they issued them to the administration and to the states to improve school bus safety. one of the wreck nations included that states should enact laws to have all large school buses equipped with three point seatbelts. other recommendations included safety measures such as inclusion of collision avoidance systems and automatic braking technology. sadly and unfortunately, and unfathomably, the national highway transportation safety administration has not initiated the process to enshrine any of these life sitting measures into federal regulations. no idea. have they should have acted. before this. 3959, i introduced hr with senator tammy duckworth. which influence those recordations to make school byes safed are -- safer
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making us recordations in every seat also fire protection standards and fire suppression systems to address engine fires. additionally the bill would create a grant program to help school districts modify buses to meet these safety modifications. i hope congress will work to enact these long-overdue measures. there's no more precious cargo in our children. i have been trying to do this since i was a state senator. i know it is difficult to get beyond the industries. but it is something we need to do. and school safety belts will save lives. i yield back and think the chairman for her time. consent thatimous the chair be authorized to declare recesses during today's hearing, without objection so ordered. i also ask unanimous consent that members not on the subcommittee be permitted to sit with the sub committee at today's hearing.
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and ask questions. i'm going to introduce the panel of witnesses. before i introduce them all i'm going to yield to mr. davis. to introduce mr. john benish. >> thank you madam chair. johnleased to introduce benish, the president of the national transportation association and a resident of the great state of illinois. mr. benish, thank you for testifying today. and thank you for the commendable work you and the other bus operators do in keeping our kids safe. kidsverwhelming number of that travel safely back and forth to our schools every day in school buses ought to also be commended. to addresswe ought the issues and transportation safety regarding school buses and other modes of transportation. theret's not forget that is an overwhelming amount of students, the overwhelming
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goority, that arrive safely, home safely, and do it again the next day, until they graduate high school like my kids did this year. so no more school buses for me for a while. but thanks for your service and things for being here today. thank you mr. davis. i'm going to run down the names of the witnesses and then call on them. where pleased to welcome the honorable andrew mclean house chairman joint standing state who ismain here on behalf of the national conference of state legislatures. also the honorable brenda sue fulton, chair and chief administrator new jersey motor vehicle of the commission . ms. kristin poland.
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dr. poland is the deputy director of the office of highway safety of the national transportation safety board (ntsb) and ms. and farrow, the president and ceo the american association of automotive vehicle administrative. matthew condon, of the local, norristown, savannah. , pennsylvania. try to give your testimony within five minutes or your opening statements rather than five minutes. i would like to welcome or ask who to speak, mr. mclean, is speaking for the national conference of state
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legislatures. >> turn your microphone. >> thank you very much. chairman holmes norton, distinguished members, mina ms. andrew mclean, i am cochair of the national conference of state legislatures, national resources and if her structure committee. ip for you today on behalf of an csl, a bipartisan organization represent a 50 slate -- state legislatures and represented us of our states, commonwealth let fletcher's and district of club you. every school day more than 25 million children climb into 485 million buses that take them to and from school related activities. thankfully, school buses are statistically the safest way to transport school children per however 61 children school children who are school bus occupants died in crashes. this is 621 children too many. -- 61 children to many.
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states have responded with laws that respond -- fall into three category per laws required seatbelts, laws authorizing cameras mounted on stop arms to cite drivers that illegally pass and stop school buses, and laws making changes to requirements for school bus drivers. overall, 35 states have debated more than 250 school safety bills in 2018. 33 states considered more than 200 bills in 2019 thus far. inpare this to 132 bills 2014 and hundred 73 bills in 2015. you can see there has been an uptick in legislative interest in bus safety. are designed to protect writers through compartmentalization using high-energy observing seatbacks and closely spaced seats so children are kept snug. these features do not necessarily protect children the way seatbelts do during side impact crashes or high-speed rollovers when passengers can be thrown from their seats. in may of 2018 a school bus
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crash took the life of one student and one teacher impairments new jersey. in response, new jersey enacted legislation requiring lap shoulder seatbelts instead of solely lap belts. in addition to new jersey, several states or parsley belts on buses. in 2018, where than 108 school 84 thousandobserved vehicles illegally passing school buses in one single day. thankfully, most state laws require vehicles on both sides of the road without a median to stop and remain stopped while school bus stop arms and flashing red lights are to play. in 2014, wyoming became the first state to require all school buses to be equipped with a camera system to capture images of motorists illegally passing stop school buses. alabama's law requires the images or video not include the face of a driver or passengers and be destroyed within 90 days if there is no violation. 20 one states
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explicitly allow local governments or school districts to use cameras to capture images and issue tickets for drivers who illegally pass stop school buses. states have also moved to increase penalties for illegally passing a stop school bus. illinois now requires revocation of a drivers license when someone illegally passes a school bus. and the violation leads to a motor vehicle crash resulting in death. finally, i would like to highlight how straights have strengthened their requirements for school bus drivers. for example new york enacted a bill that requires all school all school bus drivers be subject to random testing with all drivers required to be included in the random testing pool. states have also increased school bus driver training requirements. rhode island enacted a law requiring the annual training for school bus drivers include a service training series. this is my fourth term serving in thee legislature
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house of representatives and the third time chairing this committee and this past session was the most active in terms of legislation addressing school bus safety. just over a month ago in mid-june, maine past two bills -- passed two bills focused on bus safety. one will now require school buses purchased after this year to be equipped with a school bus crossing arm and another addressed the issue of cars passing school buses. initially, there was interest and simply increasing fines for violators, but we know that increasing the penalties does not actually solve the problem. in this working group identified the enforcement of existing laws is the challenge because there is no way to identify a vehicle when the bus driver is the only person to have witnessed the violation. the working group recommended allowing the use of a camera and traffic control device to
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identify the violator. this was very controversial given our state's high regard for privacy, but the testimony from grieving parents and community members was powerful and convincing. too many kids are being hurt or killed while near a school bus. madam chairman, i thank you for the opportunity to testify on this important topic and i look forward to your questions. ms. norton: thank you very much. next, the chair and chief administrator of the new jersey motor vehicle commission. >> thank you and good afternoon. i am here representing the new jersey motor vehicle commission and governor murphy, and we are grateful for the opportunity to speak on such an important topic. last year, as you heard, a school bus crash and mount olive, new jersey, tragically
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took the lives of a fifth-grader and a social studies teacher. and injured dozens of children. this crash broke our hearts and caused us to take a close look at how we keep our kids safe. new jersey is second to none in ensuring that our school buses are safe. each one is inspected at least twice a year with a review of driver qualifications as well as vehicle safety. our task force conducts an additional 100 unannounced inspections. unannounced inspections have been particularly critical to identify private operators who have unqualified operators driving their school buses. we started requiring lap belts on all school buses in 1992 and we remain one of only seven states that requires them. in 1986, we started to require every bus be equipped with a
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crossing arm that swings out and prevents children from passing directly in front of the bus. this was modeled after betsy's law in washington state. with the passing of abigail's law in 2017, all new jersey school buses were required to have sensors in front and back detect an object or small child was below the field of view. every night, we generate a report -- the motor vehicle department generates a report of any driver whose license has been suspended. after the devastating loss of jennifer williamson and 10-year-old maranda, we resolved to do even more. the first two years of its administration, governor murphy signed eight laws aimed at improving safety. these laws now require the following. one, all newly purchased school
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buses must have three-point belts. past, school bus drivers who accumulated 12 or more points were scheduled for suspension, and they are now scheduled for suspension if they received three or more moving violations, or six or more, and they must complete a defensive driving course to be restored. bus transportation are notified by the department of education of suspensions within one working day and must confirm that the suspended driver is no longer operating a school bus. in addition to the commercial driver license requirement from examiner of two years, school bus drivers must provide an exam.
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ave, the state is conducting study of school bus passenger safety, and finally, as a local level, school bus drivers and school bus aides must complete training biannually, and school district transportation survivors must complete an approved certification program at an institute of higher education. in some respects, we are fortunate that our governor, education commissioner, state legislators, and congress have all pulled together to enact measures to make our kids safer. but it has not escaped anyone's notice that too many of these laws have names. miranda.igail, too many tragedies. too much loss. if i could convey any message to our sister states and to you members of this committee, it would be this -- do not wait for another child to die before you take action.
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i welcome your questions. thank you for the opportunity to testify. i appreciate the moving testimony. , deputy, highway safety/transportation safety. .r. poland: good afternoon thank you for inviting the ntsb to testify today regarding school bus safety. school bus travel is one of the safest forms of transportation road today. children are safer traveling and school buses than any other vehicle, but improvements can be made. today, i will focus my remarks movementscommended related to the safety of children in the school bus loading zone. compartmentalization, the current form of occupant
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protection on school buses is a passive system that performs well in frontal collisions. and side impactmpac collisions and rollovers, it provides insufficient protection. in 2008, there was a final rule published that established standards for both lap and lap shoulder belt a voluntarily installed on large school buses. inh the federal regulation place, some jurisdictions are now equipping buses with the safety equipment, but there is no federal requirement for a school buses to be equipped with passenger lap shoulder belts. recent schoolre bus crashes have emphasized the need for change.
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last year, following the catastrophic school bus trash -- crash in chattanooga, the ntsb required that each state require = -- shoulderbelta belts to be installed. poor oversight resulted in another 2016 crash in baltimore, maryland. in each case, the drivers continued to operate school buses unsafely with no remedial action being taken even in the face of a driver safety issues. improving driver oversight can prevent crashes. in the chattanooga crash, the bus driver had about five months of school bus driving experience , during which, he accumulated numerous complaints about his driving performance. methodas no systematic for recording, tracking, or investigating complaints of
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driver behavior. crash, theimore driver had a long-standing seizure disorder yet was allowed to continue driving the school bus. we concluded that the driver understood his diagnosed ticked of epilepsyagnosis and intentionally hid this during his examination. baltimore city public schools was responsible for driver oversight, it failed to identify the bus driver as high risk. the ntsb has investigated several bus fires dating back to the 1988 collision near carrollton, kentucky resulted in 27 deaths. december, 20 in 17, a fire ignited in the engine of a school bus and spread to the passenger compartment resulting into deaths. the bus was not equipped with an automatic fire suppression system that would have delivered a suppressant inside the
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vehicle's engine compartment, increasing the time to evacuate. we issued recommendations to -- we alsouire address similar recommendations directly to the school bus manufacturers. thatdition, we recommended there was an update to the requirements for flammability of school bus interior materials. we know that more children are injured or killed in the school bus loading zone than on the bus. following our investigation of a 2016 collision in which a child was fatally struck while crossing the roadway to board his school bus, the board assess and that nist update the guidelines on pupil transportation safety to address pedestrian issues. we are now investigating three additional loading zone crashes in indiana, georgia, and mississippi in order to identify
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countermeasures for preventing or mitigating future injuries or fatalities in the school bus loading zone. tonk you for the opportunity provide our recommendations for improving school bus safety. i am pleased to answer any questions. chair norton: thank you. cook,ent and ceo illinois's corporation testifying on behalf of the national school transportation. you may proceed. >> good afternoon, ranking norton, andirwoman thank you for calling this hearing today. i am thes john, and president and chief operating officer of cook illinois corporation based in illinois. i would like to acknowledge my wife christine is here with me today. my dad started the company in
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with 75h 70 85 buses -- buses. we transport over 100,000 children in the chicagoland area. i started in the business as a teenager and have worked every physician including cdl license to driver and occasionally you will even see me driving. of there today on behalf national school transportation association, the trade association for private school bus companies that provide school bus service under contract. private companies provide approximately 38% of the nation -- nation school bus service. we have a saying in our injury that we bleed yellow. it signifies our commitment to safety for the children we transport. he today, nearly 500 thousand school buses transport almost 26 million students to and from school. more than intercity transit rail and aviation combined.
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according to dot, the school bus is the safest form of surface transportation. nist states, the school bus is the safest vehicle on the road. they operate in road and highway environments where approximately 36,000 fatalities happen annually. mourn with the entire school transportation community and families when the rare instances occur and learn from these. despite the safety record, children are made vulnerable during the courses of the trip when they are waiting for the bus stops, crossing streets, and loading/unloading from the school bus. d.o.t. statistics show an average of 22 students are killed annually outside the school bus. that is compared to the average of four to six students that are killed inside the school bus.
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observational surveys indicate an estimated 15 million vehicles schoolly passed stopped buses, and a 180 day school year. sometimes pictures speak louder than words, so i would like to ask you to view this short video clip of an illegal passing that occurred with one of our members in new jersey last summer. [video clip] >> this child walked away with a
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few broken bones, but sometimes, illegal passing has tragic consequences. last october in rochester, indiana, three children from one family were killed by an oncoming driver who failed to stop for kids crossing the road to board the school bus. these tragedies can be prevented. we believe this is the most important issue facing the industry a clip saying all others. this is what -- industry, eclipsing all others. this is why we are supporting bilateral bill, the stop for school bus act. i would like to ask for a revised support letter to be inserted into the record. if we are serious about saving children's lives, this is the issue to tackle. regarding seatbelts, we believe this issue is most decided at the state and local level.
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nitse has refused to enforce school belts at the local level. as communities are compelled to make difficult budget decisions, we stand with nitse on this issue. work with the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify and i look forward to answer your questions. chair norton: thank you. ann pharoah, american association of motor vehicle administrators. >> thank you. thank you for the opportunity to be here today with this distinguished panel. speaking on the important issue of school bus safety. i am here on behalf of a nonprofit that develops programs
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and highway safety. our mission is to support the ande, provincial, territorial officials in the u.s. and canada who administer and enforce motor vehicle laws. safe drivers, safe vehicles, secure identities, and saving lives. with our members guidance, we develop programs to develop reciprocity to face these challenges across state and international borders. a good illustration of the work is in support of our state members and their efforts to comply with national laws governing commercial drivers, just one example. the supporting role, we support and facilitate the development of best practices, we facilitate an understanding and communication on federal requirements, and those changes that come about periodically, and we work on
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both building and supporting the i.t. applications across which cdl convictions, suspensions, are transmitted. we rely heavily on jurisdiction members to guide our work, and we consider the dmv's and highway safety agency members to be the experts. with this in mind and understanding we have a very distinguished panel of jurisdiction leaders at the table, far more qualified on programs,e's specific i have limited my written comments to several national programs in which the nonprofit is currently involved. the national employer notification system, the transmission of driver medical fitness data, and some background in the written testimony on the commercial drivers license information system. i look forward to the committee'discussion, and thank you for the opportunity to join
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this panel. chair norton: thank you. matthew,-treasurer please step forward. thank you for having me here to testify today. condron, and it am the secretary-treasurer of 384 inrs local pennsylvania. i set up national contracting goals and policies for teamster school bus drivers across the country. i am honored to be here today to convey the safety concerns of one of the 30,000 school bus drivers, monitors, and mechanics we represent. these hard-working men and women who have had the honor -- who i've had the honor of representing, need your help of
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making their jobs safer. almost nothing to help school bus drivers. s offa school bus come the manufacturing line, there are no conditions. the u.s. government plays almost no role for minimal standards of school bus operation in our country. this is a recipe for disaster. private companies posed to make money or small school districts strapped for cash are often left to decide if whether investing in safe drivers and new buses is a smart, financial decision whether than the right one. this should never be a dollars and cents calculation. in my view, many of these problems come down to the lack of rules governing school bus operations across the country. the privatized schoolbus industry is a perfect example. almost one third of school bus operations in this nation are privatized.
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but there are no national whatards dictating an unsafe or unreasonable bid for a private contractor to do this work. often times, this means that small mom and pop bus companies who do not have the money to invest in new school buses, or do not pay the drivers enough will come in and offer a way less than they should to do this work. you may think that no school district would accept this kind of offer, and i wish you were right. schoolmany cases, districts are forced by law to accept the lowest bid that they receive. it can be appealing to matter what the long-term costs. this practice also puts safe responsible carriers trying to do the right thing at a disadvantage. unionized carriers are forced to take and make those investments. they are undercut by companies.
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what can congress and the federal government do? you can make sure there are basic standards in place. make sure that they naturally have enough to do the work. are they don't, kids sitting in the aisles on top of each other, putting them in enormous danger. if there is a crash on a windy, wine the road, you need to make sure that anyone on a bus route has a real maintenance program in place where kids are not being taken to school with broken mirrors, breaks that have not been expected, or worse. you need to make sure that the companies have real driver in place so the driver with the cdl knows the basics of what to do and what not to do when there are 50 screaming children in the back of the bus. you need to make sure that
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drivers get a decent wage and real benefits so that good, safe drivers want to do this job, and once they are here, they stay here. the people we asked to drive our children to school are some of the lowest paid professionals. they usually do not get to work 40 hours in a week. you only get paid for nine months a year on -- unlike other school employees. many of them cannot afford to take a day off, and often times, they will be reprimanded or fired if they do. many drivers need to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, so they are exhausted to drive their route. is that how you want someone who is driving your kid to school to be treated? the lack of federal oversight of even the most basic safety standards puts us all at risk. it is time that we take the lead no drive in this industry so child is put in harm's way on their way to school. thank you and i look forward to your questions.
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thank you,n: secretary condrom. i am pleased to see that so many school bus drivers might not even be anybody's jurisdiction because it might have been privatized, it is something the committee has to look at. begin withto questions. first of all, we hear of many things that need to be changed and helpful suggestions for you. remember that we are the federal authority and much of the jurisdiction lies in the state. i would like to ask each of you as the first question to focus on the federal government and i am looking for you to indicate what priority do you think congress should place of the
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improvements needed that the congress could implement? which would be your priority? many of you had a number of different kinds of things that needed to be done. i will start with mr. mcqueen and go down the line and asked that question. what priority for the congress? mr. mcqueen: thank you for the question. a character versus a stick. one of the great things about democracy as we have so many laboratories of democracy. different states are exploring different solutions. chair norton: you do not think that there is something that congress can do for a carrot or a stick? mr. mcqueen i think there are several things that government can do. research the effectiveness of different solutions that states are exploring. i mentioned exploring the stop arms, we are exploring the crossing guards and there is
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very little data on what is actually going to solve the problem of kids being hurt and killed on and around school buses. so continuing with the research is one way the federal government can play a role. incentivizing safety programs with states is a really important tool to incentivize different states. chair norton: i need to go down the line, incentivizing is very broad. >> thank you. from our standpoint, i would a notification system that crosses states. in new jersey, our drivers are driving other states quite frequently. chair norton: identification systems? fulton: sorry, notification systems.
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if a new jersey driver is convicted outside of the state, is a get notice that that suspension and we can notify, but if a new york driver is in our states, that notice may be sent through the mail and may take time before new york signs out of the school bus driver was convicted of something that put them over the number of points. supportgotten a lot of but while there are some ways to cross states in terms of identifying a driver that should be taken out of the driver's seat -- chair norton: i want to get to all of them before my five minutes is out. that is a classic think the congress can do. poland: thank you. forntsb has long advocated forward collision avoidance,
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occupant protection -- everyone has talked about lap shoulder belts, and most recently, talking about post-crash events. chair norton: those are things that only congress can do? >> vehicle design. chair norton: mr. bennett, my my timebenish, will run out. mr. benish: one of the things in my testimony was the stop at, illegal passing laws. chair norton: that is the federal government that can do that? mr. benish: yes. the statistics, there are at least 80,000 illegal passings. chair norton: i am just trying to get the priorities. mrs. ferro: in support of chief fulton's comment regarding oversight of drivers, research and tools to ensure that states
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and companies have timely access to driver conviction suspension cancellation data. chair norton: thank you. we. condron: one thing that do not want to look for is there bus driverse of across this country, and legislation that would diminish the pool of drivers would be a detrimental issue when trying to find who is taking the children to school. we agree there should be standardization. the bidding process needs to be adjusted where all schools can look at the safety aspects as opposed to accepting the lowest thing, wee other believe with bus safety, but the standardization of the safety rolls across the country so that every bidder is paying the same. chair norton: thank you. those are very helpful suggestions as we prepare for the next bill and it sounds to me that the federal government is way behind having those
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suggestions on things we can do, so i appreciate those. i appreciate those recommendations from all of you. i'm going to ask mr. davis if he would offer his questions at this time. >> thank you madam chair, and thank you to the witnesses. zimmerman is a superintendent of monticello school district in illinois, and it is in my congressional district, and he has been active in ensuring that children get safely to and from school. he has been specifically focused on the role that technology can play in keeping children safe when they exit the bus. this past january, is school district purchased stop arm cameras. i know he does not want to start -- stop there and always looking for new technology to help keep students safe. with that in mind, i want to are there mr. benish,
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existing technologies that we can better utilize to increase the safety of children crossing the street in front of a stop bus? we are looking at illegal passing laws, making sure that not only the technology as far as radar, we discussed the other day that if there is a stop on the bus just like you have a system where ambulances can go right through red lights and make them turn green, a system that was hooked for a slowing down of a school bus. we would also like to do public safety messaging and more technology as far as training was drivers. rep. davis: anybody else want to take that question? >> i will add to that. i had a school bus driver with boys, and grade
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one day, the mom picked up one of the boys to -- take home himself, so instead of having three, he had to. -- two. but the other one stop kid got off with the other two. he pulls up to the stop to let three boys off, only had two. he goes to the following stop, omd what is he fine, the m is waiting for her son to get off, where the child? the child got off at the previous stop. acknowledge, we can scan a barcode in easily in any dimension, why don't we have a lanyard on a child that scans in when he gets off the bus, and scans wherein he gets off the bus. it is easy to check. it helps the drivers, parents, and helps keep the kids safe. if there was some kind of
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fatality accidents, first responders would know how many children, boys and girls, and what their ages are on that bus. mr. benish: thank you, excellent advice. -- rep. davis: thank you, excellent advice. ms. ferro, welcome back. are there any existing barriers that keep the government from adopting safety measures? ro: i am trying to position that question in the context of amva to see what that would be in regard to from the perspective of motor vehicle administrators and highway safety enforcement, they would be working closely on any national programs with the federal agency, and as chief fulton indicated, structuring a program at the state level. are you speaking to the technology such as an employer educated system? hon. fulton: no, i -- rep.
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davis: no, i am kind of on the technology. you have some experience sitting at the witness table before, are there any barriers that you see at the federal level that would stop state and local governments from implementing some of the suggestions that we just heard from mr. benish or any other innovative approach? ms. ferro: i am not in the position to answer what would be a barrier at the federal level. rep. davis: how about you? >> thank you. we have not run into any barriers other than what i mentioned which is keeping track of what happens intrastate. keeping track of drivers outside of the state. that's ok. i saved mr. mclean for last. what barriers do you think exist
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because clearly, on the panel, others don't feel that there are barriers to state and local legislators and local officers being able to implement more safety standards. rep. mclean: one of the most significant barriers is money. when we enact bills at the local level, we are considering where local school districts and cities and towns have for a budget. every time we put a requirement on local cities and towns, we have to incorporate fiscal impact. that is a significant barrier at the state level that we have to consider when passing laws. rep. davis: i would ask you how we could fix it, but i am out of time. i yield back. i must note to my very good friend, and he is my good friend, asking the opposite. he wants to know if the federal government is in the way, and if there is more that we can do to get out of the way. mr. garcia. you,garcia: thank
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chairwoman norton and ranking member davis. as a father of three, i know how stressful it can be to worry about our children's safety, and i applaud this committee to evaluate the safety measures. , youion for ms. poland mentioned in your written testimony, and emergency braking system can serve to mitigate collisions. earlier this year, i joined my colleague from georgia to introduce an act to require commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with an automatic emergency brake or aeb system. , in agreement with the national highway traffic safety administration, the ntsb recommended that all aeb come standard with all passenger
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vehicles to help mitigate and avoid collisions. would you extend the same recommendation to school buses and/or commercial motor vehicles as my legislation does? the ntsb has recommended automatic emergency braking for commercial vehicles and school buses. most recently, we recommended this technology for school buses and chattanooga special investigations report. as you are emphasizing, automatic emergency braking provides protection in the last moments if there is a crash that is eminent and provides that braking to mitigate the forces involved with the crash and in some cases, to avoid it. the ntsb has been a long advocate for this type of technology. rep. garcia: switching gears, crash avoidance and mitigation technologies are critical to school bus safety. to ald like to transition safety issue that is too often overlooked.
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of the air our children breathe on school buses. i am working with senator kamala harris, and a colleague, a former educator from connecticut to introduce the clean air bus act. on the school bus fleet to get to school daily. the tailpipe emissions that they are exposed to in-transit and while idling are extremely toxic, especially as some of the school bus yards are located in urban areas. -- i ask to enter into the record, the state of the air report. it further highlights the toxicity of air and heavy duty diesel engines including school buses. thank you.
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this pollution negatively affects school attendance, health, and test scores, a falln that also tends to disproportionately on students of color like those in the district i represent, chicago southwest and northwest sides. provide diesel buses to be replaced with electric buses to reduce student exposure to tailpipe emissions and curb contribution to the climate crisis. iestion for mr. mclean, understand the struggles that states deal with to find funding for safety measures like these. do you believe that states and local governments would be supportive of a federal grant to modernize the school bus fleet? ms. ferro: i do -- rep. mclean: i do. that is one of the examples that
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the federal government could use to provide safety measures. rep. garcia: in your investigation of the oakland bus fire, you noticed the engine designs often failed to mitigate the spread of gases into the passenger compartment. that could exacerbate a situation involving a fire, but can you speak to whether these fumes can regularly enter into the passenger compartment, even in the absence of a fire? focused onstigation the post crash fire in that event, and when there was that significant fire in the engine compartment, how the incomplete firewall led to the fire being able to spread into the passenger compartment. on. garcia: can you comment the entrance of fumes into the bus cavity? >> the ntsb currently does not have a position on the aspects. rep. garcia: thank you. i yield back. chair norton: thank you.
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mr. gallagher. rep. gallagher: thank you. me and my colleague are introduced the safe to drive act which would direct the department of transportation to use some of the money that has already been appropriated for grants combating distracted driving to new grants for the same purpose, but would be easier to qualify for. my question is, what to what extent does the national highway safety administration see distracted driving is affecting the safety of school buses? has commonly looked at distraction and in fact, this has been an item on our most wanted list for many years. distraction can come in a variety of forms and we focus on distraction for school bus drivers. in all of the discussion you are hearing today, we think the oversight of the drivers is critical and that is dealing with the actions of the driver
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including medical fitness and some of the many other aspects, but there are technological solutions that if there is distraction involved, we can mitigate the effects of a crash before they happen or even make that crash less vulnerable to the occupants inside. has there been a consistent primary factor that has contributed to school bus crashes over the last several ands or is each case unique you cannot establish a trend, or is the sample size not large enough? the ntsb may -- there is a wide variety of causes and that is why we look at different recommendations to address the countermeasures. you are hearing some of those today from proper oversight of the drivers to technological interventions, to also increasing the time to evacuate and post crash events such as fire or water immersion. rep. gallagher: and for anyone
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that wants to take a swing, to what extent do we think the overall congestion on the roads, increasing congestion which obviously would very regionally, locally, is creating more safety concerns? example, i have a bill that accessllow volume trucks to highways to get them off of local roads. i view it as environmentally friendly but a safer thing. inot of roundabouts northeast wisconsin. according to the national highway transportation safety administration, getting on and off the bus can put children in significant danger, school buses operate on local roads which include stop signs and other variations in the flow of traffic. reducingpinion, would congestion in general improve the safety of school buses?
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norton: school buses are large vehicles and typically in most crashes and passenger vehicles, they fare very well. in crashes with other large vehicles, that is where we see the vulnerabilities, especially in the high-speed rollovers. we have to be very careful of unintended consequences because the ntsb has investigated a number of commercial, motor vehicle crashes especially in work zones where there may be some sort of a vehicle that is queuetopped for a developed for a work zone. technological solutions that we were discussing earlier for all commercial vehicles. our would just add that tragic crash happened on a highway. a large vehicle striking a
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school bus on a major highway, so clearing the local roads would not have been helpful in that situation. i think unintended consequent is, there are ways to look at it. rep. gallagher: i certainly respect unintended consequences. it is probably the main reason i am sitting on the side. i appreciate all of your answers and the dedicated work you do. sure it was: i am not unintended that you are on that side of the aisle. thank you very much mr. gallagher. >> thank you. welcomeagher is always to switch sides of the aisle. we can talk afterwards. to. gallagher: i would have not expect unintended consequent is. >> never mind. ms. fulton, first of all, welcome. , happyllow new jersey a to see you here.
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very happy to see the strides that new jersey is making and improving school bus safety, especially after the tragic accident in mount all of that happened in my district. i was able to meet maranda's father and sister just a couple of weeks ago when they came to washington to advocate for inater federal involvement preventing tragedies like the bus crash, from ever happening again. in that context, i wanted to ask you to say a little bit more about new jersey's employer notification system. a littleou began to earlier. recentlyrstand, it was updated to better prevent bad drivers from getting behind the wheel of a bus, and i wonder if you could explain how the system works and some of the changes we have made. >> yes.
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,hank you congressman. suspension isof posted to a drivers license, and that drivers license has a school bus endorsement, airport is automatically generated. we do this on a daily basis -- a report is automatically generated. basis, sixon a daily days a week. anyone who holds the school bus endorsement whose license has been suspended, and that goes directly to the department of ed, and the department of ed notified operators. the change in the law first shortens the time that the the departmentnd of education -- the department of education has 24 hours to notify the operator whether it is the border -- board of ed or private operator that the driver has been suspended, and
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they must confirm in another 24 hours that the driver is not driving a school bus. the second piece of the legislation is that we do not just do that for suspension with 12 points are over which generates a suspension. we are now required to do that if you get six points or more or , three moving violations and a -- period.pick this is still relatively new, but that is how it works. rep. malinowski: let's move from lineso across state issue. if someone had an infraction, let's say they had the equivalent of six point in another state, moved to new jersey, what would happen, and how soon would it happen? first, if there is
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a notice of suspension that comes from another state, we may get that any number of ways depending on whether we have an agreement with that state where we get something electronically or whether we get it in the mail the way that we communicate with some of our sister states. it may come in the mail and that can take time but it has to be managed manually. the six points, that is a new new jersey rule, and we have not that to happen automatically. there is not an automatic trigger of six points that comes in from another state. gets posted to the new jersey drivers license, then we are in state and we can manage it, but it is getting at -- the real trick is getting notice from the other state, how long does it take for a conviction that happens in pennsylvania or new york, how long does it take for that conviction to get posted in new jersey?
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that is manual process, many times. rep. malinowski: that leads to the obvious, final question. employer national notification system would be helpful? hon. fulton: it would be helpful for us, for sure. i know i have referenced amva before, but we use the existing system for other cdl information, so that would be helpful. rep. malinowski: thank you. i yield back. chair norton: thank you. there is that something that this committee can do to make sure that the national system occurs, so i appreciate those questions. mr. palmer. you.palmer: thank nhtsa found that 90,000 pedestrians under the age of 18 were killed in school, transportation related crashes
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between 2008 and 2017. do you know how many were struck going around the bus out of the 97? national transportation safety board, does anyone have an idea? there is data available on the crash statistics. portion estimates are a of the numbers you are looking at. we have three ongoing investigations in three different states where we are looking at the high-speed roadways. rep. palmer: how many of these fatalities were the result of people going around the bus as opposed to the bus actually running over the child. you have both of those situations and the reason i bring that up is in reading this -- the testimonies,
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one testimony pointed out that the passing of stop school buses during loading and unloading is illegal in all 50 states but it is reaching epidemic proportions. 105,306 school bus drivers in 38 states reported almost passedds of drivers have school buses in one day. that is incomprehensible to me that there that any people that are unconcerned about the safety of the kids on the bus. if you projected that out over 15 date school year, that is million vehicles passing a school bus. it is important to know how many of these fatalities and injuries are because people are passing school buses, and i think we may need to take a look particularly that theate level
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penalties ought to be much more severe for going around school bus when it is stopped. i think it would be important to know what is going on with that. the other thing i want to ask is a number of these accidents are in rural areas. about why so many of them are in rural areas? we had discussion about congested streets, that is really not an issue out where i grew up, and i rode the school bus when i was a kid. 64, -- i am six to four by the way. -- i am 64 by the way. it is unfortunate to report the new statistics for
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the last school year, and now they are reporting that there are over 95,000 illegal passings in the single day from 39 states reporting the information. the ntsb is looking at three crashes, and all of those are and what you would classify as rural areas and high-speed roadways, 55 mile per hour roadways. our investigators are looking at a variety of countermeasures including route planning and technological countermeasures to be able to make recommendations to our board to assist in the process. to. palmer: i want to get some questions that will lead to solutions, so what i am suggesting here is that we look at the crash statistics, rural versus suburban, urban. look at the number of vehicles that are going around school buses. i would like to know whether or or these are rural incidents in other areas, and in regard to these higher-speed highways,
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where i currently live, we have a highway that goes 55, but during certain times of day when kids are coming to school and leaving the school, that speed limit is reduced to 25 miles an hour. it may be particularly and rural areas, you treat this like a construction zone. someone brought this up and i think it is a good idea that during those times, we do it like a construction zone. we notify you ahead of time, you have to bring your speed down because you have school buses operating in the area and i know that will create some issues for transport vehicles and things like that, but i will pay the extra cost for a loaf of bread or bottle of water or whatever if it saves the life of a kid. may, i amhing if i kind of on a roll. something that i wanted to ask mr. mclean.
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the legislative role in this and ms. fulton, too. my concern is about the abuse of alcohol and in some states, having requirements for how many hours after a bus driver consumes alcohol. that should also be for recreational marijuana. commercial drivers can lose their license, and a lot live cases, they self report. -- drivers can lose their license and in a lot of cases, they self report. or not determine whether someone has lost their license before we put them behind the wheel carrying our kids. what do you think about that? time,norton: he is over so we will take suggestions under advisory. i yield back.
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chair norton: i thank mr. for his comments, especially about ways to make the penalties more severe for our school bus. that is something we need to look into, raising a federal issue of whether we could do that, and recognizing that most of these laws are local and mr. palmer raised a number of issues, i think this was raised need toabout studies we do. statistics we simply don't have. it seems to me we cannot pass another bill without making sure aree studies and statistics not mandated, so i thank you, mr. palmer. >> thank you. first, i would like to address my question to ms. fulton. thank you for the good work that you have done in new jersey.
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why is new jersey able to make significant progress towards withving school bus safety three point safety belts when it has been difficult in other states? i will be honest with you, it makes a difference when the governor and the members of the new jersey congressional delegation make it a priority, continuing to work actively educating the community, speaking out about it, and speaking to our state legislators. we had incredible support across the board for members of congress and the governor -- rep. cohen: who is your governor? hon. fulton: governor phil murphy. this is something that was important to him and important to our members of congress, and they made it happen. wait for as to tragedy, but when it happens,
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that is the opportunity where people in a position to make a difference can choose -- >> were you part of the campaign to make it happen? >> we do not lobby. >> as an observer do you recall who the main people were against the bills? >> against the bill? there was not significant opposition. there were questions about the additional cost, but the additional cost of a couple it00 on a 54 passenger bus, is a cost for school districts but there was a lot of support from the school districts where they have had accidents to go forward with it. a ms. poland, as part of study the ntsb recommended all new large school buses were equipped with belts.
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it is probably enshrined in everyone's mind. new school buses should have seatbelts. why's it so important that this be put in large school buses? >> as i mentioned in my opening statement we know that school buts are extremely safe they are vulnerable in specific kind of crashes. over and over we see kids killed in these types of crashes. technology has changed over time. we initially protected one thing but now we are seeing lap shoulder belts are well-designed and in certain circumstances we can study how they are performing in crashes and finding occupants are very well protected in these new designs. so that is why we came out with our recommendations to the state to have new large school buses be equipped with passenger lap shoulder belts. >> i vaguely recall from when i
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sponsored this as a state therer 20 years ago that was some discussion to have safety belts, that the seats are andendicular, right angles, they are stiff and they did not move, and it would hurt the kids' necks. is that an argument that has been made? >> it is, but fortunately the technology has advanced so they are able to protect an occupant --t may be unbelted behind i behind occupants who are belted as well. we have been able to study some crashes where there have been onboard video systems that have shown the alms and we have seen there is good reduction with these modern lap shoulder belts in modern school buses. >> thank you. the ntsb also recommended automatic emergency braking technology. widely available.
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you also concur that that should be part of a school bus? >> correct. correct. the ntsb has always advocated for crash prevention. technologies like forward collision avoidance, automatic emergency braking, electronic stability control. if they can activate at that last moment before crash happens, in some cases we can avoid the crash altogether. in other cases we can lower the severity of the crash. it is very important for school buses as well as all vehicles. >> thank you. those of the reasons which have been discussed here while we introduced hr-2959, and we hope they can be included in some measure as time goes on and pass it into law. i yield back the balance of my time. ask will add mr. palmer to a question when he was most likely out of time, but it was impossible even the time remaining for the question to be answered.
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so i invite those of you who do have answers to mr. palmer's writing to submit it in and i will make sure that those answers get into the record. >> i will assist that, because mr. palmer, representative palmer took some of my question talking about rural communities and the impact of bus travel for those students. % did have a stat that 52 school bus crashes occur in rural communities, and that is done by the national highway traffic administration. can all of you elaborate onto some of the things, any recommendations that we can do to improve safety and rural communities? some of the areas i represent in ohio's 12th district is literally, there is one county
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that is close to the district that has no four lane roads. it is off state route or gravel roads. and a student is on that bus one hours. one,two, 2.5 i ask anything that you might have, safety concerns that have been addressed for rural committees because 52% of school bus accidents happen in those communities. lead the way. >> i am not sure i am in a position to say what would help rural communities specifically. so, i don't know if i have any suggestions for rural communities. allowingthink that states to explore the solutions and having the federal government permit the states to
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explore those solutions is really important to figure out what the best solutions are. we are probably never going to eliminate all accidents, but we need to figure out the best ways to reduce the number of accidents. i don't have a specific recommendation for rural communities. >> does anybody? >> i don't know that this is specific to rural communities, but in our state, rural and urban communities both may have less resources at their school board than suburban communities. sorry. but one of the things that is critically important for us is the inspection from the state level of the school bus to ensure that they are not allowing a lack of resources to lead to the school buses not staying maintained, not meeting the standards. and just as important when we do those inspections, both
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announced and unannounced, we checked the driver records. are you sure the drivers you are putting behind the wheel, does everyone have a current medical certification? does every have a current cdl with a legitimate endorsement and no suspensions? you would be surprised how often private operators that are often used when funds run low -- we have had 330 summonses in the space of one year in our inspections where private operators had failed to keep those things current. and that leads to people being behind the wheel that are not qualified. chair, i will switch gears a bit. according -- the greatest risk to schoolchildren is getting on and off the school bus. has any state successfully implemented reforms to better prevent these violations?
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just going to comment on the last question on the -- >> you may comment. >> traditionally on the east and west coast, you do not see it as much, but in the rural area you see park out. they did not report to a terminal or yard. the driver just gets in the boss and goes on -- the bus and goes on their route. in rural areas you would need to make sure those vehicles are inspected enough, a little more oversight, and also that the driver is current on their training on what is current in that area. >> ok. a bus and have driven for over 25 years. i think what mr. palmer said is more signage in those areas, weecially rural, making sure put specific speed limits down at certain times of the day to
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slow down. as i mentioned in my opening statement, we do have a new act out, the stop for school bus act by center will our ski. -- senator wolarski. and especially more talking about distracting driving. three students were killed in rural indiana all from the same family early in the morning. >> thank you. >> thank you. you, madam chair. fulton, it is good to have you here. i do not know if you are aware of this, probably not, but there my time in congress, president of the city council in northern new jersey, i was in
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student transportation for 10 years. actually for one of the educational services commission as a school bus monitor where i was on arounds -- on routes in the morning doing spot inspections and making sure parents that had problems with children being picked up, all those kinds of issues. and worked my way up to supervisor of transportation, where i was responsible for 10,000 children, school buses handling north public schools, transportation and special needs throughout essex county. our most vulnerable students, stretcher-bound children that were paraplegic.
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paraplegic. so, this is really where i cut my teeth in public service, so i am really glad to see that we are here discussing these issues. i am also proud that new jersey is on the cutting edge of safety. so, i fully understand the need for safe school buses and commend you for your work to increase the safety. triplets,n, i have and in new jersey they have early school intervention where children go to school as early as 3:00. so, my children were on school buses in newark at three years old. matter-of-fact, one of them is taking pictures of me right now. so, he's made it pretty far. new jersey is a leader when it comes to school bus safety, requiring all school buses to have the three point safety belts. yet the federal government does not require that all school buses have this. can you explain how the three
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point safety belts improve bus safety, and do you think it would be in the country's best interest to have these belts required nationwide? >> thank you, and if i might use a moment to say i did not get a chance to agree with my friend from the teamsters, but school bus drivers are incredibly valuable and incredibly underpaid for the responsibility that we give them. >> i concur. >> with that in terms of statistics on three point belts, we get all our stats from the national transportation safety board. to make sure i do not screw that up i am going to pass that to ms. poland. >> the ntsb has looked at a wide variety of crashes. i have investigated crashes and school buses for over 20 years now, looking at how school bus passengers, what happens during crashes when they are just
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compartmentalized, when it is lapped only belts and lap shoulder belts. we found recent advancements in the design the left shoulder belts has provided excellent protection for the documents -- occupants inside the school buses in a variety of crashes. knowing the minimum performance for large school buses right now, compartmental is a is incomplete in many of these catastrophic crashes involving side crashes and rollovers, which lap shoulder belts provide protection for. i alsould like to ask, was able to meet with maranda's father and family several weeks ago. know,am wondering, you these laws that we have a new jersey, are they really a good foundation for the possibility of federal laws across the country? and anybody that wants to weigh in, please feel free.
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congressman, we already have the laws. maine can friend from weigh in. learning in terms of how to execute some of these things and what will have the greatest impact. >> yes or no from anybody that wants to. my time is running out. the federal government should leave it to the states to explore different solutions because different solutions are for each state. >> in speaking with a variety of newle that have implemented lap shoulder belts in various jurisdictions, we are pleased to see that best practices are being shared among the community because i think we are all in agreement here that ultimately want the safe transportation of our students to and from school. >> thank you. i yield back.
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>> thank you. i appreciate the witnesses giving us the opportunity to listen to your expertise. i come from a little different background. i was a school bus monitor many years ago. i also had the privilege of serving my community in duluth, minnesota as a police officer. one of the worst things we can do is respond to a crash of a student getting on or off a bus. unconscionable that we see drivers do this every single day in this country. it is uncalled for. i have been in a fully marked squad car. the second car had a stopped school bus. the lights are on, the gate is out. right in front of me. it is unconscionable. and so for me, to see it, i've
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cited it, i have testified in court, for me, we are in this together. when we put our kids at the end of the sidewalk or a corner, we expect them to arrive safe to and from school. we from my perspective, talked about the greatest concern is the crossing of the roads. are we putting enough emphasis ivers education classes in each of our states? because they are all about -- a bit different. what does your state require for drivers education total hours, and what did they put for the subject, or do they not specify the subject? >> i am not a motor vehicle administrator so i cannot speak to the exact requirements, but we do have a pretty rigorous process for getting a license. >> i am talking about 16-year-old drivers going to drivers education. is there anybody that thinks
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that we could enhance our drivers education? because if the majority of it is happening, driver is paying attention or what have you, it seems to be the educational component of teaching our young drivers -- >> yes, that is something with the stop act that we had proposed in my opening statement about putting more education. i recently had this discussion with one of my three teenagers two months ago about stopping in and around the school bus. knowing that i own a school bus company anima driver, it was interesting to -- and ma driver, -- they are brand-new drivers and what they did was just plain scary. >> we have to allow our states strict. real i am a cosponsor of the act. driver on a school
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bus is too much. one in this entire country, because the safety of our kids is paramount. one of the things i wanted to talk about, you talk about the restraints and what have you. comfortable saying that the restraints in a fire or water emergency for young kids, doecially in rural areas, you feel comfortable in putting that mandate forth for the entire country? >> that is a good question and many people are asking that question. i can lend some of the experience we have had where we have looked at crashes, very severe crashes where there is an onboard crash system and study the evacuation and see the passengers who maintained consciousness during the crash are able to self evacuate.
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so it is important for those students to be protected during the crash to give them the best chance to be able to self evacuate. if they are unable to be protected during the crash, then of course the injuries may negatively affect their ability to quickly and safely evacuate the school bus. >> thank you very much. to the witnesses, i really appreciate. we all want the school bus and their kids and the safety, that is the utmost importance. and you all are exports in your respective fields, so i appreciate this opportunity to listen to you, and together we can increase, in my mind, we can increase safety exponentially using i think some commonsense measures. so with that, i yield back, madam chair. >> thank you. >> thank you, madam chair. and thank you witnesses for your expertise. appreciate you being here. thank you for being
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here with us today. each and every member of this committee cares deeply about the safety and security of our school-aged children. we want to ensure that when they do get on the school bus to go to and from school that they arrive safely at their destination. however, i also want to make sure that our states and local communities are allow the flexibility they need to implement proper regulations for their unique jurisdictions. with that in mind, how can congress balance the need for improved school bus safety without imposing a heavy-handed overregulated one-size-fits-all approach for our states and school districts? >> thank you for the question. ntsb has made recommendations about vehicle design and we think it is important for the federal government to provide that minimum level of 50 -- of vehicle design including the crash protection and occupant protection. we have investigated any crashes
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where oversight of the driver is a concern. we recognize there are minimum standards at the federal level. much of that oversight happens at the state and local level. we think those minimum standards should be provided at the federal level we do think it is important and critical that the state and local level can implement them and in many times exceed them. >> exactly. involvedniece that was in an accident in beaumont, texas. bus but it was a terrible accident with fatalities and my niece was injured. i think they have implemented in the state of texas seatbelts because of that one accident. to follow up on that question, could you talk about some of the recent actions you have seen states and school districts take in order to increase the safety
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of students traveling to and from school on school buses? i know we have talked about that, or you have hit on a little bit, if you would elaborate a little further, i would appreciate it. >> of course. we are very pleased to see so much movement on occupant protection. there are so many states that are now looking at passenger lap shoulder belts for large school buses, and we think this is a critical move. we are also seeing a lot of motion in the school bus manufacturers, where they are looking at some of the technologies for preventing crashes and they are implementing these in some buses as standard equipment. we also think that is very critical for the crash avoidance expect. so there -- aspect. so there is a lot of movement and sharing of best practices including some aspects that did not necessarily address injuries and fatalities, but some of the aspects of driver retention and distraction that may be improved with some of the technologies and installations we are talking about lap shoulder belts.
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>> i will yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you. i actually got a little bit of good news on the subject, here. we have in northern california the town of paradise, which had a horrendous fire almost coming up on one year ago now. we had one story of a local school bus driver who during this fire crisis, without being told by anyone, decided to drive his school bus back into town to the ponderosa elementary school -- schoolut when the in paradise when the camp fire broke out. he loaded 22 kids and several teachers onto the bus and took them to safety. at one point he ripped off a
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shirt to make it into a mask. thanks to his efforts and other teachers, all the kids escaped the campfire without major injury. now, being california, as dangerous as the wildfires are and still will be, school buses are under fire in another way. they implemented the diesel filters, refitting existing buses with these devices. they can reach and exceed 600 degrees celsius when the engine is operating and have been prone to clogging with ash and unburned fuel, which causes them to catch fire. these are not isolated cases to buses. also with trucks and other vehicles that have been forced to be reef -- refitted.
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vulnerable to these issues and have caught on fire. being california, the largest population, it also has the largest school bus fleet and the largest number of students of any state. so, california usually has the most restricted relations on school buses. chp has to inspect each bus every year. drivers review their own vehicles every 45 days. despite these ratings, these buses still catch on fire because of the diesel filter that was required was not suitable to be used. that technology had not caught up to what was a requirement on these buses. hundreds of thousands of vehicles required to install them anyway no matter the cost. setsoland, the government a low bar for school buses and particularly allowance states to -- are you aware of any
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intervention the government has being putstudents are into danger by regulations? experiences with schoolbus fires are not related to the issue that you are bringing up. some of the countermeasures we have recommended -- >> you have not heard of any case of trucks or buses refilled -- refitted with these filter systems? we made publicsh recently had a school bus fire but not ace the engine compartment caught on fire from overheating of the turbocharger. of course in that case i also mentioned there was an incomplete fire law that allowed the smoke and fumes. >> that is one case. a turbo that was coming apart or lost a bearing and whether that could be something that could happen. we are talking about the diesel filters that have been forced to be refitted to many buses, trucks and lots of equipment in california and maybe other states that have joint in that.
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so, is there any kind of protection from the federal government over regulation that is causing fire simply by the fitting of this equipment? >> the ntsb's position is on fire suppression system and the engine compartment and flammability of the interior components. it would not address specifically the cause of the fire, but may mitigate the consequences and increase the time for passengers to be evacuated so systems were fitted with those countermeasures. >> the federal epa is taking a look at how states sometimes go consumers,he harm of to the harm of safety of buses. atld ntsb be looking more the possible harm in this case, that fitting these devices on and not technology having been made fully applicable in a safety factor, would they look at maybe they should not be fitted until they
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are more properly engineered? >> if there was a circumstance where that was the cause of a fire that the ntsb is investigating, i am confident we would look into that and certainly address countermeasures that may be able to mitigate the consequences. >> might be able to look at countermeasures. statistics on no how many fires have been caused by the refitting of these vehicles with these filters? >> no. >> have you heard of it? have you heard of this happening? that i mentioned earlier, has not been the cause of any of our school bus fires. >> in general. trucks, buses, diesel vehicles that have had these filters. >> not that specific issue. >> your time has expired. announcer: late last month queen elizabeth agreed to suspend parliament for five weeks after a request from new brea grant -- british premise are boris johnson.
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the latest news from overseas as prime minister johnson lost his majority in parliament on tuesday when conservative parlett -- parliament member quit and joined the liberal democrats. members of parliament are expected to prep the prime minister for his response, and a way forward with brexit during tomorrow's prime ministers question time which you can see live starting at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span 2. earlier today both prime minister johnson and opposition leader jeremy corbyn talked about brexit. this is about half an hour.


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