School Bus Mirror Technologies Enhance Driver Vision

Angela Lu, Assistant Editor
Posted on August 1, 2008
Mirror Lite's Super Nickel rearview mirrors allow for increased forward visibility for drivers because of the gap between the two mirror heads.
Mirror Lite's Super Nickel rearview mirrors allow for increased forward visibility for drivers because of the gap between the two mirror heads.

School bus mirrors have evolved to include embedded cameras, LED lighting systems, tempered glass, improved shapes and glare-reducing filters — these innovative products help to increase safety for school bus drivers and riders.

Mirror Lite Co.
In the last couple of years, Rockwood, Mich.-based Mirror Lite has put into production two innovative types of crossview mirrors — the High Definition (HD) and Solar Eclipse models.

Paul Schuster, Mirror Lite’s communications director, says that the company has been getting a great deal of positive feedback on the HD model. It features a quadraspherical lens, which has two focal points parallel on its curve. These focal points create a larger reflected image of objects around the front end of the bus while reducing the size of the reflected image of the bus itself.

Mirror Lite also offers the Solar Eclipse, which features an oval-elliptical lens design with a glare-reducing filter on the upper quadrant.

Both crossview mirrors contain a single convex lens and are virtually shatter- proof. The company’s rearview mirrors, the American Eagle, New Englander, Super Nickel and Double Take models, also feature new innovations.

The American Eagle is a single-housing mirror, while the Super Nickels and Double Takes are two-head systems, which facilitate increased forward visibility by allowing the driver a direct line-of-sight through the gap between the two heads.

The Super Nickels are a larger version of the Double Take model. Double Takes are one inch narrower and are sometimes used on the driver’s side of the bus, while the other side is fitted with a Super Nickel for a highly efficient assembly.

The New Englander’s top head is fl at glass, but a lower convex head allows drivers to view the stepwell and the bottom of the loading doors.

These rearview mirrors use high-impact, laminated safety lenses, which are bonded to an adhesive and substrate layer in an injection-molded lens tray. If the mirror’s glass does shatter, the lens tray and adhesive will retain the damaged glass, which allows for safer servicing.

All of Mirror Lite’s remote control mirrors use a patented modular design that can easily be serviced in the field. Lenses can be repaired in a matter of minutes using snap-lock trays.

In addition, Mirror Lite’s remote control mirrors can be upgraded at any point during the bus’ life.

The Bright Vision LED lighting system from Rosco Mirrors illuminates the danger zones around the bus during loading and unloading.

Rosco Mirrors
Rosco Mirrors’ Bright Vision system, currently being piloted throughout the U.S. and Canada, is an LED lighting system that illuminates the danger zones around a school bus during early morning and late evening stops.

“Drivers are typically constrained in low-light situations by the absence of light around the vehicle, and it limits them to what they can see in their mirrors,” says Ben Englander, vice president of engineering.

With the Bright Vision system, LED lights are installed on the sides of the bus as well as into portions of the mirror assemblies to increase visibility of the danger zones during loading and unloading and for a user-specified period of time afterwards. A microprocessor controls the system automatically. The company expects the product to be available for purchase once approval processes have concluded.

Rosco has also recently introduced mirror systems embedded with cameras, which can help drivers to better monitor images around their vehicles from their seats. Though these camera-embedded mirrors are being used extensively in other industries, they have only recently been introduced for evaluation in the school bus industry.

Rosco has also recently upgraded its interior mirrors with a component called Lever Lock, which makes it easier for bus drivers to adjust their mirrors and lock them correctly into place. Operators simply have to unlock the spring-loaded lever with one easy hand movement, adjust their mirror and then relock the lever.

Lastly, the company has introduced EYEMAX LP, its latest crossview mirror system. The EYEMAX LP provides the driver with better visibility of the danger zones by increasing the image size of objects around a vehicle through enhanced mirror lens curvature.

The interior rearview mirror from Tiger Mirror Corp. can be adjusted and locked into place with the turn of a knob.

Tiger Mirror Corp.
Tony Pietrowski, project engineer for Tiger Mirrors in Clay Center, Ohio, says when it comes to its products, the company focuses most on quality and longevity.

“We feel that quality products might cost a little more, but quality and longevity is better,” Pietrowski says. “We want things to last.”

For that reason, Tiger has fitted its mirrors with tempered glass, in accordance with the National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures manual. The mirrors, which the company says are stronger than regular mirrors, withstand 35-foot drop tests with a half-pound steel ball bearing.

Tiger has also created interior mirrors that can be adjusted without the help of technicians, using a knob on the side of the mirror that a bus driver can use to lock and unlock the mirror’s position. A quarter turn of the knob loosens the mirror, while another quarter turn tightens it in place.

Tiger’s stainless steel rubber fender mount prevents crossover mirrors from shaking and coming loose.

Tiger also offers its new teardrop-shaped spot mirror. The company says that this model gives drivers better visibility along the sides of the bus — especially of smaller cars, which can easily be hidden in the blind spot with some types of mirrors.


Related Topics: mirrors

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