Role of Technology in School Bus Safety

School Buses have evolved and how! From the simple box on wheels, the school bus of today is a highly secure vehicle embedded with extremely advanced technology all because of a deceptively simple idea: Using the Internet to enable electronic devices to communicate with us humans and also with each other to exchange information in real-time. Progress exploded from that point onwards by making remote actions and reactions a defining feature of our reality.  

This phenomenon is called the Internet of Things and it has gifted us with the ability to make top-notch security affordable and available to anyone with an Internet connection. Parents and teachers can now watch over school students and protect them even when they’re out of sight as they go to and from school. 

Here’s how some of the latest technological innovations have revolutionized school bus travel. 

Auto-routing

Auto-routing is a term for the automated process of determining the shortest route that covers all scheduled locations using the minimum number of vehicles possible. It’s quick; it reduces hours of work into a mere few moments. It’s efficient; all the calculations are done by computing devices so it’s error-free. It’s lightweight; it doesn’t need the installation of any complicated hardware. All you need is a smartphone. There are many platforms in the market such as SafeBus to simplify the auto-routing process.

Stop Arm Cameras

A Stop Arm Camera is a device built to stop speeding motorists from breaking the law by ignoring the stop sign displayed by a school bus and attempting to overtake it, putting the lives of children at risk. The camera is strategically positioned to capture images of the front and back license plates of the vehicle and a picture of the driver. These snapshots can be used to prosecute such drivers. 

Warning Lights 

Drivers can set off flashing lights as a warning to speeding drivers. The law prohibits drivers from overtaking school buses and states that any vehicle must stop for school buses whether approaching from front or rear until the school bus moves or the driver turns off the flashing lights and pulls in the Stop sign. 

RFID Cards

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification Device. It is used to keep track of students entering and exiting the school bus. There are three steps to this process. First, an IC Chip is attached to Student ID Cards which are carried by students so as to track them. Second, an antenna transfers the location data in the form of radio waves when it is triggered by a Reader device at the entrance or exit of the bus. Third, the reader converts the radio waves into messages that can be read by the user. All of this takes place in an instant and is certainly much quicker than doing a physical count every time. 

Live-Feed Camera 

Students before and after school are typically more boisterous in a school bus because the atmosphere is much more relaxed than the strict, disciplined ambiance of school. It’s a normal space for social interaction outside class but students can get too mischievous and distract the driver or cause unintended mishaps. To avoid this, a live feed camera is set up ahead of the Driver’s seat so that the driver can keep an eye on students without losing sight of the road ahead. 

Telematics

The system of monitoring vehicles by combining telecommunications and informatics is called Telematics. The procedure involves collecting vehicle-specific information from GPS satellites and uploading it to a centralized, cloud-based server using an Internet connection. This data includes location, speed, arrival, departure, idle time, mileage, harsh acceleration, abrupt braking, fuel consumption, vehicle flaws, and more. The data is then processed, analyzed, and made available to users on their smartphone or any display device. This detailed level of monitoring helps to ensure the maximum security of every student traveling by school bus. 

Video Mirrors 

Unlike a car or a motorcycle, buses are bulky and only allow the presence of one side-mirror with no room for rearview mirrors. One mirror alone cannot give a clear picture of the movement of vehicles behind the bus. To cancel that disadvantage, cameras are placed in positions that clearly capture the flow of traffic and transmit it live to the driver’s tablet or any display screen installed on the bus. The tablet has the advantage of storing all the information that would otherwise require a huge, time-consuming amount of paperwork. 

Geo-Fencing

Fencing the school bus route is an option that adds to the layers of security protecting school students. Fleet management apps provide the means to restrict buses from entering any particular zone. It could be a supposed ‘short cut’ from the chosen route or entry into a red zone, cluster-based zone, or a covid Hotspot. The moment the fence is breached, immediate alerts are sent to transport admins, schools, and parents.

Alcohol Lock 

It is often difficult to identify when a habitual alcohol drinker is drunk during school bus driving duty. Well, technology today has no room for irresponsible behavior. The driver’s mechanical dashboard scans the oils on the driver’s fingertips to assess even the slightest hint of alcohol consumption before the drive begins. If there is a sign of it, the controls of the bus go into lockdown and alert the school and admins. 

Tracking App For Parents 

A parent may be assured of their child’s safety in school but the school bus journey to and from school is a very valid source of worry. Schools that employ manually managed buses are often inundated with worried calls from parents asking about their child, especially if the vehicle is delayed. Parents also often spend a lot of time waiting at bus stops not knowing when it will arrive. To solve these problems, tracking app interfaces have been customized for parents. They can view the live location of the bus at all times and ensure that their child has indeed boarded/exited the bus. Parents get an update when the bus is about to reach the bus stop so that they don’t have to wait around for an unspecified time. SafeBus is ensuring peace of mind to parents with mobile apps which are available in both iOS & Android. Download and try it for free.

Motion sensors

School children are often unpredictable and may accidentally enter the wrong school bus or fall asleep without anyone noticing. The solution is to install highly sensitive motion sensors that can sense the slightest movement like breathing. If a student has been detected on bus premises, alerts are sent to the school, the admins, the driver, and the fleet operator so that they may be found and taken to safety as soon as possible. 

Alternate Fuels 

This is a wonderful educational opportunity for school students as they learn about air pollution, global warming, and greenhouse emissions. We’re in an age where we’re beginning the switch to clean and inexhaustible sources of fuel for our vehicles. As they grow more environment-conscious, they will be excited and curious about traveling on an electric bus which is very plausible in the near future. The initial, one-time cost to get an electric bus is much higher than regular diesel ones but the costs for maintenance and upkeep are significantly lower and much more healthy for the environment, and hence, humanity. 

WiFi With Filters 

We’re in an age in which the Internet permeates everything. The scope of research and learning tools found online are remarkable opportunities for learning that must not be missed. School Buses equipped with WiFi will encourage students to learn more outside class. They can also access the Internet and use their travel time to complete their homework on the school bus. Simply apply the relevant fosters to avoid misuse of the connection for entertainment, or games. 

Timer-Based Heating Mechanism 

In cold places, using heaters in buses can get quite expensive unless the bus has a timer-based heating mechanism installed that turns the heating system off and on at regular time intervals, keeping the bus warm for when the students arrive without wasting power. Similarly, for buses using an AC, the cooling system turns on and off at regular time intervals without needing any human input. 

Student Manifest 

A manifest is a list of passengers scheduled to travel in a particular vehicle. In school buses, school authorities and drivers can instantly check the digital manifest and compare it with the students already present in the bus, verified by their RFID embedded cards. If a student has applied for leave on a particular date, their name and location will not show up on the manifest that day. 

The Future

These are only fifteen of the most exciting security features for school buses to hit the market. We’re sure that the future is going to be abuzz with many more innovations and as a Fleet Management Software company, we plan to be leaders in the market.



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