School bus mirrors go to war

Posted on September 1, 2005

ROCKWOOD, Mich. — Driving a school bus requires a skill set that starts with training but includes a keen eye, awareness of surroundings and a good set of mirrors.

Imagine for a moment that instead of a yellow school bus, you've been called upon to drive a 5-ton fuel truck. You're a young recruit with little driving experience. Suddenly, your mirror lens explodes in a shower of glass.

Military vehicles used in Iraq and Afghanistan often have to pass other vehicles on narrow, crowded roads. These wide-bodied vehicles have side-mounted rearview mirrors that are prone to colliding with mirrors or other parts of passing vehicles. This creates a flying glass hazard for the personnel in each vehicle.

As the Department of Defense (DOD) began armoring up wheeled vehicles, military rearview mirrors came into question. Based on its experience in developing shatter-resistant school bus mirrors, Mirror Lite Co. of Rockwood, Mich., was invited by the DOD's procurement branch (known as the DLA) to develop mirror systems for the military.

Mirror Lite's laminated safety glass and housing prevent flying glass in the event of a limb strike or other collision. Until now, there has not been an adequate solution to prevent flying mirror shards in military vehicles.

Mirror Lite has produced a series of prototypes specifically designed and rigorously tested for the needs of a number of tactical vehicles as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the DOD.

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