Ohio’s invention in national spotlight with new bus safety laws

Steve Gardner created the Gardian Angel school bus lighting system after learning that a 15-year-old girl was killed while riding the bus in Sylvania.

TOLEDO, Ohio – We saw President Joe Biden sign his infrastructure plan earlier this week. It includes additional safety measures for school buses.

This is an important topic for eastern Toledoan Steve Gardner. “I worked in the school bus industry for 35 years,” he says.

Gardner is a retired fleet mechanic, but still determined to keep children safe as they get on and off the school bus. About ten years ago, he invented the Gardian Angel school bus lighting system after learning that a 15-year-old girl had been killed while crossing the street to catch a bus in Sylvania.

“And the first thing the lady said was, ‘I’ve never seen her,'” Steve recalls, but he couldn’t take it. So he put a pen on some paper and invented a simple lighting system that lights a path on the ground in front of the school bus.

The lights attach to the bumper and come on when the driver turns on the emergency lights and stop arm. “The first one I did – the prototype – made my arm hair stand on end,” says Steve.

The now patented Gardian Angel is in use in some local districts and 25 other states.

Her son Andrew helps with the marketing. The couple even worked with the NTSB.

“It’s very emotional to go through all of this. We have met a lot of negative people over the years and now is the time to shine,” said Andrew Gardner.

Purchase orders may soon light up, thanks to a new requirement for neighborhoods in the recently signed infrastructure bill.

“As part of the law, they must assess the Gardian Angel lighting system, among other forms of technology,” adds Andrew Gardner. “Think about these options to see which one is the best option.”

Steve says he’s not here for the money. Lights are under $ 200. He’s just thankful that he found a way to make a difference.

“I want to save lives,” says Steve. “Its important to me.”