HOPKINS, Minn. — A school district here is testing a new solution designed to analyze when a vehicle is likely to illegally pass a stopped school bus.
Hopkins Public Schools is conducting a pilot test with the Predictive Stop-Arm (PSA) system from Safe Fleet. Using radar technology and predictive analytics, the PSA aims to enhance student safety outside the bus, notify bus drivers and students directly when risk is detected, and mitigate driver distraction with reduced false alerts, according to a news release from Safe Fleet.
Tom Brodsky, vice president of the advanced technology group at Safe Fleet, said that the safety solution supplier’s approach to the longtime problem of vehicles passing stopped school buses uses active alerts to students as well as bus drivers, referring to the use of predictive analytics as “the essential ingredient to the safety solution mix.”
The school district has been running the pilot for a month and plans to continue testing it over the course of the next year, KARE 11 reports.
Derrick Agate, the district's transportation supervisor, told the news source that he heard about the technology at a conference.
"Our number-one responsibility is to keep the kids safe and this technology helps us to do that," Agate, who is also the president of the Minnesota Association of Pupil Transportation, added.
Agate also noted that the PSA is more appealing to him than just using cameras on the bus and focusing on drivers who break the law, according to the news source. He also likes that there is an audio warning for the student not to cross the street when the system detects imminent danger, telling KARE 11 “We have the video … but more importantly, the child never stepped out into the street to begin with.”
“The school bus industry has been trying to effectively address the school bus danger zone for years,” Brodsky added. “The use of mirrors, stop arms, video surveillance, operator training, public safety announcements, and policies and procedures have helped increase safety outside the bus. But more must be done if we want to reduce the number of school bus related injuries and fatalities to zero.”
Another school district, St. Lucie (Fla.) Public Schools, has had the PSA operating live on regular routes on 10 buses since August 2018, Safe Fleet told SBF, and expects to officially roll it out in May or June.
Watch the complete video coverage from KARE 11 below.
Safe Fleet will hold a live demonstration showcasing the Intelligent Perimeter Safety Solutions, including the Predictive Stop-Arm, on June 9 at the STN EXPO Indy. For more information, go here.