WHITE PIGEON, Mich. — Students who ride school buses in White Pigeon should be easier to see in the early morning after White Pigeon Community Schools purchased 400 flashing reflectors.
The devices are red and have three light settings: a fast flash, a slower flash, and constant light. The reflectors should be placed on the left shoulder strap of a student's backpack.
"90 cents a piece," said Kendra Jones. "You can't put a price on safety, you can't put a price on a student, and if we can get more people, more districts to do it, that's the important thing."
Jones, the White Pigeon Schools transportation director, said her bus drivers are responsible for the safety of the roughly 300 district students who ride buses every morning and afternoon.
"There are opportunities for something bad to happen, unfortunately, everyday," she said.
Jones said the idea for the flashing reflectors was inspired by a similar effort at another school district. She also said one morning during this school year she was filling in for a bus driver and saw first-hand how hard it was to see students during the winter.
"There are times you don't even know if kids are coming out because it's so dark, especially on back roads that don't have lights on them," Jones said.
"Darkness is one thing," said White Pigeon Community Schools Superintendent Jon Keyer, "but darkness and snow and ice and fog?"
He said things are tough enough for bus drivers and anything the district can do to help them protect children is a plus.
"Our bus drivers are very safe, OK, but it's another layer of safety that they've added to their jobs, which are extremely difficult," Keyer said.
On Oct. 30, 2018, three children were killed, a fourth seriously injured, when a driver allegedly sped past a stopped school bus in rural Rochester, Indiana.
Jones said that while the deadly crash happened after the idea for the flashing reflectors came up, the incident energized her efforts to provide them to students.
"There's unexpected events that happen, we can't control those, but if you have something to catch someone's attention, to make them be aware, I think it needs to be done no matter what the cost is," Jones said.
Two district employees paid for the devices, according to Jones.
Jones said the devices are only for student riders, but the district would considering purchasing them for students who walk to school.