DriveCam helps fleets identify and address risky driving behaviors to improve safety and overall performance for drivers and vehicles.

company serves, thanks in part to government agencies like the NTSB and NHTSA. “Tis is how innovation is pushed by an industry and (brings improvement to) driver … safety. I am proud to be a part of an industry that is still looking at ways to move forward and improve, despite (already) being the safest mode of ground transportation today,” he added. He explained that any new requirement for seat belt systems on school buses that could result from the NTSB recommendation should be the “modern, ‘easy to use’ and ‘easy to monitor’ sys- tems.” Te three-point systems “are the only type that I have seen that I think have any chance of being implemented and utilized effectively on a fleet-wide scale.” But the most significant technological innovation that he sees impacting the school bus industry is going to come from exterior video stitching technology (bird’s eye, 360-degree view of inside and outside the vehicle, sonar/radar for crash avoidance and student journey management systems). For less vital advanced technology, such as Wi-Fi, it may not rank as the most important piece of equipment on school buses, but Oyster says it has quickly become a very popular component. “We have a small number of Wi-Fi capable buses and we have gotten a relatively positive response from them. As technology continues to advance and data speeds improve, it will only continue to become more useful.” Down the road, “It is exciting to think about the possibilities of the technology over the next few years, as 5G becomes a reality.” Plus, “5G will only make data speeds improve—and will likely improve connection fidelity as well. I believe that 5G becoming common in the market will be what makes Wi-Fi on school buses (a) more common and effective offering for operators like us.” Cook-Illinois Corp. is the largest school bus contractor in

40 School Transportation News • JULY 2018

Chicagoland. John Benish, the company’s president and COO, commented to School Transportation News that at his company, “People are still worried about the national driver shortage and tracking of buses.” One new driver retention strategy employed by Cook-Illinois is a wellness initiative for its drivers that is set to roll out later this year. He said that Cook, which was founded in 1915 and is still

privately-held, is also expecting to invest more into mobile app capabilities. Cook is currently trying to integrate tablets and contin- ues to evaluate the different products on the market. Benish said he expects to make a decision soon on acquiring tablets to use on all of its buses. However, he said demand for Wi-Fi has cooled. “We really don’t

have a lot of contracts now that ask for Wi-Fi,” he commented, adding that he senses that local momentum, at least has “stalled.” But he said that if the Wi-Fi helps make the buses safer, then he anticipates seeing a surge in interest in the marketplace for them. Cook-Illinois is also interested in collision avoidance technol-

ogy, which NTSB recommends for all school buses. “Te new buses we are ordering do include that capability,” Benish said. “It definitely will save lives.” In April, First Student announced its new FirstView District

Dashboard and Parent App, which it calls “the industry’s most comprehensive and secure bus tracking, communications and en- gagement platform.” Te innovation “helps districts and parents better manage the many moving pieces of the hectic before-and- after-school rush. Districts can streamline daily decision-making through centralized, real-time fleet reporting, and can efficiently alert parents about school delays or issues. And parents can receive their student’s bus status and district messages at their fingertips.” Dennis R. Maple, president of First Student, Inc., reports that

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