If you’ve decided that it’s time to install a system on your buses to remind — or force — drivers to do their “walk-backs,” you have several options, ranging from home-made placards to place in the buses’ back windows to sophisticated electronic devices that sound an alarm if the driver fails to walk to the back of the vehicle. To that end, we’ve profiled four electronic systems, one manual system and an experimental system not yet available to the public (see sidebar). Please keep in mind, however, that none of these systems can replace a good driver training program. These systems are only as effective as the people running them, so make sure your staff members are conscientious and well prepared.
Price: $49.95 to $89.95 per unit
Warranty: 5 years, extended warranties are available
The main alarm unit (MAU) — a microprocessor-based alarm system — is mounted in the electrical panel at the front of the bus near the driver. Each MAU comes with a color-coded “quick connect” wire harness that is designed to fit generically with all bus types. There are no wires to be fished, and only six wires to connect. There are two rear-vehicle transmitter models, which offer different methods of system deactivation. Basically, one model is for conventional buses with rear emergency exit doors, while the other is designed to accommodate rear-engine transit-style buses. The RVT-4W is wired directly into the rear-door interlock housing and uses the rear emergency door lever as its method of system deactivation. This unit can be installed adjacent to or within the housing itself, space permitting. The RVT-2W is wired directly to the furthest rear buzzer on the bus and uses the surface-mount button as its method of system deactivation. This unit is generally mounted above the furthest rear seat on the driver’s side of the bus. Operation:
The system becomes “armed” once the overhead lights have been activated, indicating to the system that children have boarded. The system remains active until every child has disembarked. Once the driver completes the route, he must return to the rear of the bus in order to deactivate the system. Because the system is activated by the overhead flashers, it allows the driver to stop and go freely about his business prior to or after scheduled runs without the need to return to the back of the bus every time the ignition is turned off. In the event that the driver forgets to conduct a check, and attempts to leave the bus before disarming the system, an alarm will be activated as soon as the key is turned off. This alarm simply reminds the driver that he must return to the back of the bus to deactivate the alarm, thus ensuring that a proper check for children has been performed along the way. Should the driver, for whatever reason, ignore the initial alarm and leave the bus, the system will initiate a second alarm after one minute, causing the horn to sound. The alarm is deactivated by raising the rear emergency-door lever slightly (or pressing the surface-mount reset button on rear-engine buses). An audible signal alerts the driver that the system has been successfully disarmed. For a free sample, call Child Check-Mate System at 877/494-8222.
Warranty: 1 year
Price: call for quote
Warranty: 5 years
Wire the front control module into the console to the left of the driver. Included in the wiring is a horn relay, enabling the horn to take as much as 100 amps. (Some horns can handle as little as 15 amps and will be overloaded and blown by the system without a relay). Open the channel that runs above the bus door to the back of the bus and feed the wire through, bringing it to the rear. Drill a hole in the back of the bus, push the button through, bring the wire down from the channel and connect it to the button. The system is grounded using a second wire. The button can be replaced with a key-mechanism if the customer prefers. Operation:
When the driver turns the bus on, a green light on the front console notifies him that the system is working. A red light illuminates if the system is not working. As soon as the driver turns off the ignition, the alarm sequence is initiated. The driver has 30 seconds to deactivate the system by either turning the bus back on or by going to the back of the bus and pushing the button at the rear. If he fails to do so, the running lights on the sides of the bus and the horn will go off and on every second. To deactivate the alarm, the driver must push the button at the back of the bus. If a customer requires more than 30 seconds for his drivers to check the bus, he can order K.I.D.S. systems programmed for lengthier relays. The system also has a service switch on the front console so that mechanics and other personnel authorized to have service keys can turn the system off while they work on the bus. By adding a couple of wires, using the same software, the system can be linked to the bus’ LED and the green and red lights on the console will let the driver know if his LED is functioning as well.
Warranty: 1 year parts and labor replacement
The front control module is wired into the console, near the driver’s area. The rear control modules are installed as follows (depending on the one the customer chooses): Pushbutton switch – Run a wire from the front of the bus to the back (or use an existing wire if there is one). Drill a hole in the back of the bus and connect the button to the wire coming from the front. Wireless remote – Bolt the remote to the back of bus and signals will be sent to it from the front of the bus without wires. Emergency door – Mounts onto the back door switch and functions using existing wiring. Operation:
The system can be tied to either the ignition switch or the running lights, depending on the customer’s preference. When the ignition or running lights are turned off, a buzzer and red LED activate, telling the driver that he has one minute to deactivate the system before the horn starts to honk. To deactivate, the driver must walk to the back of the bus and either push a button or open the emergency door, depending on rear module installed. With the emergency door module, it is not possible for the driver to deactivate the system from outside of the bus. If the door is ajar when the bus is turned off, the alarm will sound and the driver will have to deactivate the system properly. The Bus-Scan also has a service override switch on the front console that allows personnel authorized with keys to disable the system during servicing. A green LED light indicates the system is in “service” mode. The override key cannot be removed until the system is put back on active status.
Price: one-sided: $10.50/each; two-sided: $12.50/each
At the end of a route, the driver must walk to the back of the bus and hang the one-sided “bus empty” sign in the back window or flip the two-sided sign from “in use” to “bus empty.” With the two-sided sign, the suction cups can remain adhered to the window and the sign can be detached, turned around and reattached.