Keeping students safe in and around the school bus can be a challenge — pandemic or not. And now, with more students back on board, school bus drivers are being reminded to keep an extra eye on the potential dangers around the bus — from stop-arm violators to students running in and out of the danger zone.
School Bus Fleet reached out to several visibility technology suppliers to find out about some of the latest offerings to enhance driver and student safety from all angles. Those include high-definition camera systems, stop arms equipped with radar and artificial-intelligence technology, and LED cross-view mirrors.
Exterior Camera to Increase Driver’s Field of View
Capture traffic coming, going, and beside the bus with AngelTrax’s patent-pending exterior Parallax camera’s 210-degree field of view. Mounted to the bus’s driver side or passenger door side, each EXTPARLX4K camera captures a view wide enough to include even the exterior sidewall of the bus, from front bumper to back bumper, according to the supplier. With a 4MP lens, the EXTPARLX4K camera exceeds cinema 4K resolution without the fisheye effect of wide-angle lenses. The exterior Parallax camera has a waterproof rating of IP67 and an impact resistant rating of IK08. The camera is also compatible with AngelTrax’s Vulcan Series mobile digital video recorders and Vulcan Series Hybrid Component mobile network video recorders.
Advanced Technologies for Protecting Bus Danger Zones
REI’s surveillance and driver assistance solutions integrate advanced technologies, such as radar and lidar sensors, artificial intelligence, and high-definition cameras, to elevate student transportation safety. These advancements assist drivers to better understand the environment and enable quick, mitigative responses to potential hazards around them. Among REI’s solutions:
- Automated Stop-Arm System – integrates HD cameras and radar to detect the illegal passing of school bus stop arms, day or night, and auto capture images of violators’ license plates.
- 3D 360˚ System – integrates HD cameras and lidar to provide three-dimensional, panoramic, and bird’s-eye views of bus danger zones and assist drivers during parking and lane changes with views of blind spots and around corners.
- Mobileye Collision Avoidance System – integrates artificial intelligence with radar and lidar to trigger pre-emptive warnings to drivers and vehicles about speeding, lane departures, unsafe following distances, and potential collisions with pedestrians, cyclists, etc.
LED Mirrors to Boost Visibility in Low-Light Conditions
Rosco Vision Systems’s Eye-Max LED offers improved visibility at the front of the school bus during low-light loading and unloading conditions. By integrating four ultra-bright downward facing LEDs within each head of the Eye-Max cross-view mirrors, a “cast-net of visibility” is added to both the cross-view mirror lenses and to the direct eye-level viewing of the bus driver, according to the supplier.
How it works: when the bus’s front door opens, the front of the bus apron and front wheel locations are automatically illuminated, thus enabling the use of the cross-view mirrors in the dark. The system automatically times out 10 seconds after the bus’s door closes, providing the driver adequate time to survey the danger zone under optimal lighting conditions before driving away. The mirror’s downward facing LEDs are set at precise angles that will not be blinding to the driver, students, or other roadway traffic, according to the supplier.
Available as a new bus option, the Eye Max LED can also be retrofitted on any school bus with existing Eye-Max 5360 cross-view mirrors by purchasing a new kit P/N: KIT5360LEDH.
Rosco Vision Systems
Stop Arm Equipped with Artificial-Intelligence Technology
Safe Fleet’s Predictive Stop-Arm couples sensors and artificial intelligence to proactively notify oncoming motorists, bus drivers, and students of potential dangers around the school bus.
The system detects vehicles that it deems unlikely to stop when the school bus stop arm is deployed, and then provides audio and visual warnings inside and outside the vehicle. The intent is to prevent a potential accident before it happens, according to Safe Fleet.
The Predictive Stop Arm includes the following components:
- A controller unit, called the Safety Alert Module (SAM), mounted inside the vehicle.
- Two externally-mounted 24GHz doppler radar modules on the vehicle, which are usually mounted directly below the stop arm. One radar monitors traffic approaching from the front of the bus; the other radar monitors traffic approaching from the rear of the bus.
- Visual warnings/alarms are signaled via the SAM display module. This auto-light-sensing unit provides a tri-color visual warning: green for normal, amber for warning, and red for alarm.
- Two external horn speakers provide audible alerts to students and the bus operator.
School Bus Mirror Monitor Offers High-Definition Views
Similar to the concept of backup cameras, Safety Vision’s HD School Bus Mirror Monitor covers a 360-degree view around the bus for the driver. Equipped with four HD cameras strategically placed around the vehicle, the solution also has the ability to integrate with Safety Vision’s On-Board Recorder, which supports up to 12 additional vehicle cameras, according to the supplier. The additional camera inputs allow school districts to equip their buses with stop-arm cameras and take advantage of Safety Vision’s citation services, according to the supplier. The solution is also upgradeable to add on-board Wi-Fi.