Monthly Archive:: June 2010

Vehicle Safety Quick Tip


While I was at the Lexus Family Safety Camp, the professional drivers gave us pointers to be better, safer drivers.  Here are some tips to help you should an emergency situation call for emergency braking.

Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)

Your brakes are more powerful than your engine.  Here, let me say it again.  Your brakes are more powerful than your engine.  Your vehicle’s brakes should be able to stop you if they are in good working order.  If you are in a situation where your vehicle refuses to stop (for instance, a runaway vehicle with the motor racing), put the gear lever into neutral and apply the brakes.  The vehicle will stop.  As a last resort, turn the motor off.  In doing so, your power systems—power steering and power braking—will cease working after a few seconds, but the vehicle will still be drivable enough for you to steer to the side of the road and brake; it’ll just require more effort.

Anti-lock brakes pump the brake pedal for you.  In the olden days (oh, say, when I learned how to drive), we were taught to pump the brakes for maximum braking efficiency.  Nowadays, that’s what ABS does for us.  The proper way to use the system is to step on the brakes.  If anti-lock is needed, the brake pedal will vibrate automatically (it’s scary if you’ve never felt/heard it before!).  Just step on the brake pedal and let it do its job.

Guest Blog: Lessons from a School Bus, Part 2


Deborah Davis Stewart is publisher and Editor-in-chief of Safe Ride News Publications.  She is also a nationally recognized expert on child passenger safety issues, including the LATCH system on which she wrote the book!


School Bus Transportation: Another Country

I returned recently from almost a month in India. It is a fascinating country and the people are wonderful.  However, its differences are vast, both from the USA and from one region to another: food, languages, religions, traditions … I had to work hard to be more than just a tourist dropping in to see the sights.

Thinking about a typical CPSTs entering the realm of pupil transportation for the first time, I realize the experience is like visiting another country: the culture and the language are different and need to be understood before you can “fit in” and be truly welcomed.  Having a “local” as a guide and collaborator is essential.  And, as with travel, it is important to refrain from making judgments as to how things are done “over there.”

You might be lucky enough to find a CPST among the school transportation personnel to partner with you.  If not, be sure to seek out a guide who can complement your CPS knowledge with bus-specific wisdom.

Hands-on training—essential before you go

It is critical for CPSTs who do not come out of the school bus transportation field and who want to work cooperatively with school districts and child care centers to get further training. This should include learning more about “cultural awareness” as well as school bus-specific language and technical skills such as installing and adjusting the specialized CSRS used in buses.

NHTSA offers an eight hour course ,“Child Passenger Safety Restraint Systems on School Buses National Training.” This course, written primarily for school transportation professionals, is a must for CPSTs before they make the trip to their local school district office. It offers the bonus of six CEUs for CPSTs.

The NHTSA training is given in some states and at some national conferences (see for a list).  There are two upcoming classes: in Reno, NV, on July 24–25, at the STN Expo, and in Fort Worth, TX, on August 25, at the KIM Conference. 

A bonus of the KIM training, cosponsored by Safe Ride News, is that it is specifically for CPSTs, so it will be streamlined to avoid duplication about correct use of conventional CRs.  It also will include a discussion of working in your community with your school district on school transportation issues.  All attendees will get a copy of the Handbook.

I hope to see some of you there!

Lexus Family Safety Camp: What I Did This Summer


The day started with my perfect half-full flight landing at the quaint Burbank airport.  As I walked down the steps and onto the tarmac at gate A2, the weather was perfect.  I met my chauffeur and off we went to the Rose Bowl and Kidspace Museum.

The Kidspace Museum is so cool. My kids could find hours of activities to do there, even my 10 yr old who quickly proclaims everything boring if it’s not moving at the speed of light. There are lots of tactile activities nature activities and climbing experiences.

Lunch was catered by Wolfgang Puck. Woot!

This is the first safety camp and is in response to the Lexus/Toyota recalls that have been in the news lately. It’s a PR thing or as Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”

Guest Blog: Lessons from a School Bus, Part 1


Deborah Davis Stewart is publisher and Editor-in-chief of Safe Ride News Publications.  She is also a nationally recognized expert on child passenger safety issues, including the LATCH system on which she wrote the book!


Lessons from a School Bus

Researching and writing the School Bus Safety Handbook: Choosing and Using Child Safety Restraint Systems (now there’s a mouthful for you!) for Safe Ride News was a learning experience—even for myself, despite my many years of advocacy of school bus safety. 

My co-authors, Linda White, Mary Anderson, and I learned several lessons about the differences between the use of child restraints in personal vehicles and in school buses.  I’d like to share some of them with you.

First lesson—the words we use

Even the term used for child restraints is different. “Child safety restraint systems” (CSRS) is preferred in the industry and among parents of children with special needs because it avoids any negative connotation of “restraint” as used for discipline.   And “school bus” can mean many things, too.

Second lesson—a school bus is more than big and yellow

When you think about it, it’s obvious a school bus is a very different beast from the family car.  But buses are different from one another, too. Some provide more flexible seating options than others, such as LATCH anchors or built-in CSRS.  Finding the right CSRS for the right kid that can be installed properly in the right bus is complicated!

Third lesson—more rules than a yard stick

Some conventional CRs (oops, CSRS) can be used on buses, but only if … they fit into the cramped space between two school bus seats… and there are lap belts on board … and the lap belts are designed to be easily tightened through a belt path – and on and on.  You get the idea, right?

Fourth lesson—passengers of ALL sizes

Babies are going to school these days with their teen moms in buses. Some bus drivers told us that they had to transport babies as young as two weeks! For rear-facing kids, only conventional CRs can be used since no school bus-specific CSRS are made for rear-facing use.  Kids with special needs also come in all sizes, and are being integrated more and more into the “regular” school bus routes.

Answers you can count on

We developed the SRN School Bus Safety Handbook to be a primer for anyone dealing with the use of CSRS on school buses, including child care providers. Our intention is to untangle all the aspects of fitting the right CSRS to the child and to the school bus on their route, as well as using the device correctly.  In every community, school buses are carrying kids in CSRS, yet often the drivers and aides have only minimal guidance.

CPSTs may want to, or be called on to, work cooperatively with school transportation folks. You could offer a wealth of information, but you must be aware that what you learned about buses in the 32-hour course is just the tip of the iceberg.  Even the Handbook, by itself, is not enough.  Just like priming the walls before you paint, it is just the first layer of information.  And remember, entering the realm of pupil transportation is a bit like going to another country: the environment as well as the language may be different and needs to be understood.