Although riding the school bus is typically a very safe and popular mode of transportation for students, getting on and off the bus has proven to be a bit of a risk. Each year there are numerous incidents of drivers illegally passing school buses which can, and have, resulted in the injury or death of students.
Fortunately, thanks to the innovation of Steve Gardner — a former bus and fleet mechanic and supervisor — and the marketing skills of his son Andrew Gardner, a product is on the market to help reduce illegal passing and to keep students safe and seen.
Gardian Angel Pedestrian School Bus Lighting System is an exterior lighting system that can easily be attached to all school buses on the market. Also, as different states require different specifications about product additions, Gardian Angel, LLC has developed multiple product lines to meet those varied needs.
Although the specifications might vary depending on state, the premise of the system itself is the same. The product includes one or two 1,000-lumen white LED floodlights that shine out the sides of the bus from the bumper. The light is aimed at the ground so that it will not blind motorists or pedestrians surrounding the bus, and it reaches 18-20 feet.
When the red stop lights activate, the lighting system activates as well, creating a lit path in which the student can walk. Once the student is on the bus and the doors have closed, the lighting system turns off. There’s nothing extra that a bus driver needs to do in order to operate the system. In addition to the light that projects from the bumper, two red flashing strobe lights are also mounted on the front of the bus which makes it easier for cars to spot a stopped bus during daylight hours.
Gardian Angel was created on January 21, 2010 just hours after Steve saw a news story of a 15-year-old Sylvania student killed by a vehicle that was illegally passing the bus while the student was crossing to board the bus.
“As a parent of a daughter about the same age, it broke my heart,” Steve recalled. “After hearing the news, I kept thinking something has to be done to prevent this.” Right then, he started to sketch a design at the dinner table. After he developed the design, he shared it with his son, Andrew, who offered to use his marketing skills to assist in the project.
Going from idea to product proved to be a long and expensive process. Steve explained that the patented process is very expensive to start and to maintain, so he and his wife agreed to withdraw their life-savings in order to start the journey of Gardian Angel.
A prototype of the product was installed in 2010, and then a life-sized working model premiered at the national school bus trade show in 2011. The Gardners were rejected many times, and then learned that each state has its own laws and requirements for bus equipment, which made even more work for the growing small business. Over the years, the Gardners have been developing credibility with committees and officials, as well as demonstrating their technology across the country. And as of today, Gardian Angel is available in 25 states.
“So many people only see the success in others and don’t see the blood, sweat, and tears that occur behind closed doors,” says Andrew. “All the hard work is finally paying off, and it’s an honor not just to be recognized after all of the rejection throughout the years, but to be keeping your children safer every single day as they board the safest vehicle on the road.”
In fact, in the ten years since its creation, no child on a Gardian Angel installed bus has been struck, injured, or killed in the darkness. Find more information about Gardian Angel here.