Multiple radar units keep watch on the front, right side, and rear of the scool bus. When a...

Multiple radar units keep watch on the front, right side, and rear of the scool bus. When a pedestrian is detected, the Saf-T-Zone system warns the driver with haptic feedback and via tablet.

Photo courtesy Thomas Built Buses

Thomas Built Buses has introduced the next phase of pedestrian protection technology on its buses.

The Saf-T-Zone system, which alerts the school bus driver to pedestrians outside the bus, comes just months after the company unveiled the Stage 2 Lights safety system. Stage 2 Lights alert students to more safely cross the street so that they can enter or exit a school bus. Both systems are now available to order.

"As we all know, school buses are the safest way to get to and from school," said Jed Routh, vice president of sales, marketing, and service for Thomas Built Buses. "But these two new safety systems will further enhance the driver's ability to protect pedestrians outside of the school bus, whether they are crossing the street to get on the bus, walking near the bus in potential blind spots, or disembarking from the bus. These new systems are yet another step in our journey to ensure that school buses remain the safest vehicles on the road."

In partnership with MITO Corporation and CUB Group, the Saf-T-Zone pedestrian detection system consiusts of LED ground lights on the cross-view mirrors and multiple radar units on the 77 GHz frequency band. These higher-frequency radar units are installed on the front, right side, and rear of the Thomas Built bus and allow more precise detection and measurement of a pedestrian or object within 10 feet of the front, back, or right side of the school bus - or even within the danger zone. When a pedestrian is detected, the system alerts the drive via haptic feedback in the seat, through an audible noise, on an in-cabin tablet, and through caution lights on the cross-view mirrors.

The Stage 2 Lights system is activated along with the red warning light system aboard the bus. After all traffic stops, the driver holds down the "walk" momentary switch, illuminating a green bumper light that's visible only to the students. That tells them it is safe to cross the street. If the driver doesn't hold down that switch, the bumper light remains red. If a student tries to cross despite the red bumper light, the driver can use a switch to honk a horn, warning the student.

Saf-T-Zone pedestrian detection is available on the Saf-T-Liner C2 and Saf-T-Liner C2 Propane. Stage 2 Lights system is available for the Minotour, Saf-T-Liner C2, Saf-T-Liner C2 Propane, Saf-T-Liner CNG, Saf-T-Liner EFX, and Saf-T-Liner HDX.