Even though commuting by school buses is considered safer in comparison to private cars, we all know that children have to bear the brunt of harmful fuel emissions as well as driver negligence.
Thankfully, several technology advancements in the transportation sector are now available to school buses, offering the promise of a safer, cleaner and healthier commute for children:
1.Alt Fuel Technologies:
Increasing fuel prices and harmful exhaust emissions have forced governments around the world to look for alternate fuel options.
Making the switch from Diesel to CNG and Propane has helped to a large extent.
However, the E-School Bus and Hybrid Electric school bus can prove to be game changers in this industry, provided governments can incentivize the high acquisition costs:
This uses electric batteries instead of fossil fuel, so has zero tailpipe emissions, a quieter commute, substantially lower maintenance requirements and is ideally suited for school buses which ply on more or less fixed routes.
This uses a combination of conventional combustion engine and battery electric technologies; and is innovative because it helps to mitigate the disadvantages of fossil fuel as well as the current limitations of limited range electric batteries.
The advanced engine can use cleaner fuels in place of diesel. The end result is a smaller engine, lower fuel consumption, near zero emissions and a quieter commute.
A stitch in time saves nine. Advanced sensors can alert drivers in case of engine faults, damaged indicator lights, or issues with oil tanks, transmission or exhaust systems. This ensures more accurate and timely repairs and avoids breakdowns and high maintenance expenses down the line.
A host of sensor-based detection systems are now available to ensure safety in school buses.
Motion-sensors detect the smallest of movements inside the bus, ensuring no child gets left behind; temperature sensors ensures that inside temperatures are never above the tolerable limits; sensors for seat belt use, door opening and closing, stop sign and stop arm functioning, speed control and engine idle time etc. help to conduct pre trip checks.
Advanced digital cameras provide a more comprehensive coverage of the school bus interiors, which helps to record, monitor and investigate unruly behavior and bullying of smaller children.
As per a study, 20% of all accidents involving children and pedestrians happens in the area surrounding the school buses-typically the driver ‘blind-spots’.
This system comprises of four high resolution wide angled cameras that provide a full bird’s eye view of the entire bus perimeter by stitching together the four views instead of multiple split screens that confuse drivers.
6.Timer Based Block Heaters:
These mechanisms use electricity to warm up engines as well as bus interiors, which eliminates the need for idling the engine, reduces emissions and enables a safer, more comfortable commute for the driver and school children.
7.Electronic Stability Control Systems:
This system anticipates a loss of control or rollover situation, e.g., while driving on wet or snow-covered roads. In case the stability threshold is crossed, the system applies the brakes and removes the throttle.
8.Collision Mitigation Systems:
Studies have shown that over 90% of accidents are caused by driver negligence, distraction or drowsiness.
This system involves the use of radar technology to detect metallic objects up to 500 feet in front.
It gives out alerts and applies automatic brakes if the driver fails to act.
Some systems even have pedestrians and cyclist detection and headway monitoring, to avoid tailgating.
Research has shown that these measures can reduce accidents by up to 75%.
9.Lane departure warning and Lane Assist systems:
They use a motion camera to detect lane markings, detect the vehicle position, and warn the driver when the bus starts to drift out of the lane. If the driver fails to notice, the system automatically steers the vehicle back in line.
10.Intelligent Speed Assistance:
Speeding is one of three major contributors to accidental deaths on the roads. This system uses GPS linked speed limit data or speed sign recognition cameras to advise drivers of the speed limits, and can even automatically cut off the acceleration.
11.In-wheel Alcohol Detection:
Bio-sensors on steering wheels can detect the presence of alcohol in the driver’s blood, simply through touch. If alcohol levels are more than pre-set limits, the vehicle is immobilized and the transport manager is alerted. This ensures safe driving every time.
12.Traction control systems:
In harsh winter conditions, when roads are covered in ice or snow, spouts in front of wheels can drop sand on the roads to increase traction, or in extreme conditions, simply cover the wheels with snow chains.
On-spot traction control systems consist of small wheels fitted with several snow chains, which are lowered onto the driving wheels at the switch of a button, instantly improving the grip of the vehicle.
They greatly empower drivers, eliminate paper work, and simplify the process of receiving route plans, checking student on boarding and off boarding, conducting pre-checks, and reporting.
Students spend a minimum of an hour every day on the commute.
What if this time could be gainfully utilized?
Now school buses can be fitted with routers for students to access the internet via public networks. Filtered wifi ensures that they use the internet for educational purposes, and avoid noisy behavior that could distract the driver.
Radio Frequency Identification device tags are attached to student ID cards, which are swiped every time they enter or alight from the bus, instantly sending a notification to parents and school authorities that they have been tracked.
School bus safety now means a whole lot more than just providing GPS and access to cleaner diesel.
The best School Bus GPS Tracking Systems now employ a host of new technologies including real-time GPS tracking, advanced telematics, internet connectivity and customized mobile apps to enforce better driving practices, ensure a safer commute for children and complete peace of mind for the parents.
What do you think? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.