School buses have side mirrors in the front of the bus, but these leave blind spots, particularly on the right side, near the wheels. Gloria began work on inventing a product that would eliminate these blind spots.
Over the next four years she worked day and night to come up with a solution. She developed a variety of designs involving motors, pulleys, gears, cranks and mirrors of all types and sizes. She had to contend with the product's weight, ease of use, reliability, cost, the outside elements including wind and snow, and vandalism.
The results of her efforts was a mechanical structure with a foldout convex mirror that mounts on the rear right side of the school bus. When unfolded, it provides a wide panoramic view of the entire right side area of the school bus from front to back, including the tires and wheel wells, where many of the deaths occur. There's also a stop sign on the back of the device, which deters traffic from illegally passing the bus on the right, something that's quite common in rural areas. The driver peers into the outside front right-side mirror, and sees a full view of the right side of the bus through the new rear convex mirror.
Little did Buley know that coming up with the idea would be the easiest part.
Finally in 2003, after four years of effort and at a cost of $950,000, financed by mortgaging her home and loans from family and friends, she was ready to unveil her life-saving invention. She had purchased an out-of-service school bus for her development work, and, using her brother's flatbed trailer, hauled the bus from New York to a convention in Salt Lake City of the National Association for Pupil Transportation, an organization that works to provide safe transportation for school children.
Buley set up her bus in the convention hall with her invention attached and demonstrated it to the attendees. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Bus companies and school officials recognized the impact the product would have.
Responding to their feedback and suggestions, she continued to refine and test her design, and in 2004 incorporated as the Woodstock Safety Mirror Company. She applied for and received seven patents.
However, as she next learned, she was still a long way from being able to sell and commercialize the product. She next had to work with three government agencies that were responsible for school bus safety: New York State's Department of Transportation, the New York DMV, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). Over the next two years, she met with the agencies and worked to convince them of the invention's value. That was a long excruciating process, filled with bureaucratic obstacles, slow responses and conflicting rules among the agencies. One of her big frustrations was that the agencies didn't communicate with each other, slowing her down even more.