Backing up large, yellow school buses creates a risky and dangerous situation. Therefore, to limit the significantly higher chance for collision, school bus operators are instructed not to reverse unless absolutely necessary.
Although this fundamental regulation decreases the risk of accidents, it does not eliminate the need for drivers to operate vehicles in reverse. And even infrequent reverse actions result in the hazardous combination of limited visibility and unsafe maneuvering around students, pedestrians and other vehicles.
The National Safety Council recommends that school bus drivers use a “spotter” or an adult to assist the driver from outside the bus to complete the backing maneuver. However, adult spotters are not always available to school bus drivers along their routes, and inexperienced spotters may actually put themselves in a dangerous situation.
When considering school bus safety issues, knowing how to use technology to limit safety risks during backup procedures is important. Evidence shows that the use of "spotters" can be dangerous, and installing backup safety systems is a safer alternative. A backup camera is a special type of video camera that is specifically designed to aid a vehicle in reverse. But are commercial vehicle backup cameras a sensible investment or a luxury?
Backup camera systems prevent injuries and save lives. An efficient rearview system can also end up saving large bus fleets unnecessary costs by preventing accidents, expensive repairs and insurance claims.
The newest in school bus safety technology is the mirror and monitor combination backup camera system. The mirror/monitor system is an advanced driver aid for school buses that includes a camera mounted on the back of the bus sending images to a monitor installed within the interior rearview mirror of the bus. This feature is ideal for backing up a school bus and more effective than a standard backup camera system. The combo eliminates the obstruction that a separate monitor could create for a driver and keeps the driver’s eyes on the rearview mirror.
Backup camera systems are becoming a necessity for school bus fleets in order to reduce costs and liability. While the main goal of a backup camera system is safety, it can also help fleets avoid unnecessary costs.
Backing up a vehicle will always come with some risk, but it can be dramatically reduced with the proper safety technology. Equip your drivers with the tools to do their job efficiently and safely.