7 ways technology is making school buses safer

As with other areas of school safety, technology is playing a role in helping to ensure the ride to and from school is incident-free.

Today wraps up National School Bus Safety Week, which encourages parents, students, teachers, motorists, school bus operators, school administrators and the public to promote the importance of school bus safety.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), school buses are the safest form of transportation to and from school. School buses meet 48 federal safety standards—more than any vehicle on the road. In addition, riding a school bus is 70 times safer than riding in a passenger vehicle and 10 times safer than walking to school.

And this year, the school bus industry has been on the forefront of promoting a safe return to school during the pandemic. The Student Transportation Aligned for Return to School, or STARTS Task Force—a collaboration of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), National School Transportation Association (NSTA) and school bus manufacturers—has provided resources for student transportation professionals and their stakeholders to be used in the design and development of school opening plans and the development of sustainable operational support in a time of COVID-19.

As with other areas of school safety, technology plays a big role in continually making school buses even safer. Here are some examples.

The Predictive Stop Arm™: This device uses patents-pending radar and predictive analytics technology to monitor oncoming vehicle traffic and gauge when a stop arm violation is likely to occur.

School bus camera systems: Seon’s school bus camera systems capture video and audio of what’s happening on the bus—letting drivers keep their eyes on the road while helping schools identify bullying, vandalism, student discipline issues and driver safety issues. The cameras have playback software with privacy blurring and video synchronized with telematics data.

ThruView Assist™: A blind spot collision prevention system, ThruView Assist helps transit agencies prevent left-hand turn, pedestrian strikes via an in-cab monitor that displays a high-resolution view of what is present beyond the bus pillars.

Transit video surveillance solutions: Video surveillance and management systems let drivers react faster and make better decisions about on-board incidents. Features include the ability to automatically download on-board security footage, or livestream footage from any installed bus camera quickly and securely.

inView 360HD™: This around-vehicle monitoring system eliminates blind spots by giving drivers a real-time 360° degree view around the vehicle during low-speed maneuvers.

Live fleet tracking: These systems provide GPS/AVL tracking features to monitor bus fleets in real-time. Users can get a map-based view of every bus, live vehicle status (such as speed, direction, idling, stops), and reports to identify fuel savings and operational efficiencies.

Smart dashcams with real-time in-cab coaching: Zonar Coach helps prevent accidents by providing real-time audible violation warnings so drivers can take corrective action when it’s most critical to mitigating accidents. The solution monitors the road and provides voice feedback when drivers exceed posted speed limits, tailgate, don’t stop at stop signs, lane drift, brake too hard, corner too fast or rapidly accelerate. Drivers can proactively monitor their own performance via a dashboard or video-based scorecards.

Also read: Bus stops: 9 school busing realities to recognize, a look at what superintendents and other school district leaders must consider as decisions about this area, and others, are made throughout the 2020-21 school year.

Melissa Ezarik is senior managing editor of DA. 

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