“Almost every year before 1999, a sleeping student was inadvertently left on a bus at the end of the school day somewhere in West Virginia,” said Wayne Clutter, executive director for school transportation and facilities, West Virginia Department of Education. “If a student falls asleep, he or she won’t be found immediately unless the bus driver carefully checks each seat on the bus. Although drivers are supposed to check their buses for sleeping students, they can sometimes miss a student if they don’t thoroughly check each seat.”
Clutter said that he was informed by the West Virginia Development Office early in 1999 that a device invented by Wes Rogers, president of Superior Manufacturing in Beckley, was available to help ensure that sleeping students aren’t left on buses.
“This device will cause the horn to blow and the dome light to flash unless the bus driver walks to the back of the bus and pushes a reset button within 60 seconds after turning off the bus,” Clutter explained. “This device essentially forces the bus driver to walk all the way to the back of the bus and helps ensure that a visual inspection is made. Since installing this device on all new buses last year, we have not had a single incident of a student being left on a school bus in West Virginia.”
Clutter said that the device developed by Rogers, a Rowlesburg native, costs only $50 to install on each bus – well worth the insurance it provides for students, bus drivers and school systems.
“Fifty dollars really isn’t much compared to the possible emotional stress experienced by a small child waking up on a locked bus after everyone has left and the potential liability to bus drivers and school systems,” Clutter noted. “West Virginia became the first state in the nation to mandate this device on all new buses, beginning with the 1999-2000 school year. Other states are now following West Virginia’s lead in installing these devices on buses.”
Clutter said that the state’s school buses transport 230,000 students each day, traveling 41 million miles in a year.