TEMPE, Ariz. — An integrated safety solution from AlertStar Corp. will soon be operating on school buses around the state.
The system has three components. Two cameras on the bus’ left side photograph vehicles (including the driver and license plate) that illegally pass the bus. The photos and data are downloaded through a computer interface to AlertStar’s processing center, matched with DMV registration information and forwarded to the police department for review. A traffic citation is then mailed to the registered owner.
Cameras inside the bus record all activities on board and include optional audio feeds. The DVR system can store up to 45 days of data, which can be remotely queried by date and time.
The final component uses high-intensity LED lights and audible signals to warn kids to stay out of the danger zone when their bus is moving or about to move.
AlertStar Chairman Brian Wesley said the company began developing and sourcing equipment for the system after hearing about a 2001 accident wherein Danuta Begay, an Arizona student, was run over by her school bus and lost a leg.
Moreover, thanks to Janice Strauss, AlertStar spokeswoman and community/ law enforcement liaison, the system will be piloted on 10 Mesa (Ariz.) Public Schools (MPS) buses.
A former police chief, bus safety was an important issue to Strauss when she worked in law enforcement — as children, she and her sister were hit by a motorist who passed a stopped school bus.
This accident is also what prompted Strauss to work with AlertStar. “When AlertStar approached me about being a consultant, the accident was the first thing that came into my mind,” Strauss said. “What I liked about this company was that it does things to prevent kids from getting hurt.”
In addition to organizing meetings between AlertStar and MPS officials, Strauss has connected the company with police chiefs and the police department’s traffic divisions’ staff to promote the system.
In July, Wesley said the pilot program at MPS was in the first phase of beta testing. The second phase will commence at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year.
AlertStar will then focus on introducing the system to other Arizona communities and, ultimately, to the rest of the U.S. and Canada. With the implementation of each system, the company will also conduct a training program for students — in which Begay may take part — on risks associated with the danger zone when boarding and disembarking a bus.
“Danuta would like to participate in our training,” Wesley said. “She says the accident she was involved in was preventable and she would like to convey that message to students.”