Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bus Driver Invention

The Steffi Crossing Enhancer, invented by Lake Shore bus driver Victoria DeCarlo
School buses already have the Betsy Gate, the swing arm that forces children who cross in front of a bus to walk far in front in order to ensure that the driver sees them and doesn't accidentally run them over. The name is used in Washington and was inspired by Betsy Anderson who died May 29, 1990. Many other children have died in similar accidents.

This latest safety invention, the Steffi, thankfully is not named after a dead child. Hopefully it will come into general use before children die. When children must cross from the far side of the road to board the bus, they need to wait until the bus driver indicates that it is safe before doing so. The bus driver has better visibility and, when they see that the road is clear, they must signal the child with a hand signal. Sometimes, given darkness or bad weather, the children cannot see the signal and cross at their own risk.

Victoria DeCarlo, a 19-year-veteran Lake Shore Central School District bus driver invented the simple device which is no more than a glove made from reflective vest material. She made the prototype during her time off of work and named it after what she refers to as one of the most dangerous stops along her bus route.

“There is a road called Steffi Drive, off of Herr Road, which was one stop that was quite the issue for me in the mornings. I went into the office and told my boss that I just had a bad feeling about Steffi Drive, and he said that maybe there was something I could do with the reflective tape from my safety vest. He suggested that maybe I could sew it around a glove or something to make the hand signals easier to see. Well, on my downtime, I used a Cheez-It box as a stencil and made pretty much a prototype Steffi.”

“It’s already saved a life. There was a boy and his sister, and everyday he would cross himself, sometimes without even looking at me. I had enough of it and showed him the Steffi and said, ‘if you don’t see this, you don’t cross.’ After about a week and a half or so of crossing perfectly with the Steffi, one day I saw an oncoming vehicle coming to a stop. But I followed my gut and my gut told me something was wrong, so I shook my head no and didn’t cross the child. That car accelerated and went over on the shoulder of the road, which the child did not see. The car ended up almost hitting him, and actually hit the lacrosse stick he was holding. The car ended blowing two stops signs after it blew by my bus. I just started shaking and the child told me it was because of the Steffi he didn’t cross.”
To learn more about the product, visit
Check out the article for more details.

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