body design or other features. Te fixation on camera safety has now trickled into the larger vehicle,” he said. “Our most sophisticated Transit Bus System Shield+ (a collaboration with Mobileye, which was recently purchased by Intel) can spot a collision course with a pedestrian, cyclist or vehicle and give the driver notice in time to stop the bus.” Like many new technologies, costs are headed

Eric Raphael, owner of Irvin Raphael, Inc. and a board member for the NJ School Bus Contractors Association, said he’s “all about” any new technology that can make students safer. But he cautioned that proper guidance remains necessary to ensure student transporters can make wise business decisions on how to implement innovations.

down as it appears on more buses, Plate said. He insisted that there is “always room for im-

provement” with safety systems but added, “A visual system or properly working audible system is light years better than nothing.” In terms of where these systems are going, there will be more tie-ins to the safety system of the bus.” Rostra Precision Controls, a Laurinburg, N.C.- based manufacturer of vehicle accessories is a supplier of rear-view camera systems but also began devel- oping radar systems in the late 1990s to provide the heavy vehicle market with a product more responsive than ultrasonic systems. Charles Monroe,Rostra product and accessories engineering manager, said the company’s obstacle sensing system uses microwave sensing technology to alert drivers to objects as far as 12 feet away behind

or alongside the rear of a vehicle. Many systems do not differentiate between stationary

and moving objects causing inanimate objects to give false positives. Other systems may be vexed by snow, rain or mud obscuring their sensing ability, resulting in false positives or no readings at all, which was the case during an Iowa-state pilot test several years ago. Monroe noted improved electronics technology in

today’s systems have been refined to sound far fewer false positives, which are objects other than a student. An audible alarm offers an extra margin of safety when a driver might be distracted and not looking at a rear-view monitor. “Te system doesn’t alarm if there’s nothing moving,” said Rostra national sales manager Mike Gaborcik. “If the bus is moving we will detect anything in the field of the sensor, such as a mailbox or utility pole, for example.” “Te laws are a little different in every state dealing

with procedures for student transportation and standard bus equipment. If a state requires a crossing arm in the front of the bus, we can set the system so it shuts off when the crossing arm is in motion and comes back on after it stops moving to prevent false positives,” Monroe said. “If it’s a bus with special equipment such as a wheelchair lift, we have the ability to configure the


46 School Transportation News • MAY 2017


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