Independent School District outside of Dallas. In 2019, he started purchasing IC buses with the Fusion Wingman system. Community ISD had put eight buses with the technology in service and Cox was planning to add more, before moving to Cleveland ISD. His new fleet of 100 buses currently does not have any

collision mitigation technology, but Cox said he plans to change that at a rate of 10 to 15 buses a year. “I person- ally drove buses with it and there was clearly a huge improvement in bus safety,” he shared. Cox added he has been favorably impressed with the extra layer of atten- tion the technology provides. “It’s a huge asset to have the bus alert you that you’re over the speed [limit] or over the line,” he said. “Sometimes drivers are distracted with students, and this system gets their at- tention really quick.” Meanwhile, Blue

“I think we in the industry need to listen to the experts in accident investigations. They have found that many deadly school bus [crashes]

could have been avoided, or at least had fewer injuries, if the buses had [collision avoidance technology].”

Cody Cox, Director of Transportation at

Bird also offers a factory-installed collision avoidance system. Developed through a partnership with video system provider Safety Vision, it combines the passive collision avoidance solu- tion Mobileye with a 360-degree camera. This gives the driver a complete view around the exterior of the bus while offering alerts to potential dangers. Features include alerts for lane departure without signaling as well as different types of imminent collisions, such as those with a cyclist or pedestrian, or rear-ending a vehicle ahead. A speed limit indicator and headway monitoring system are also included. Along with the enhanced potential to avoid incidenc- es, the system can be seen as a step forward from some previous technology by focusing on prevention rather than capturing driver mistakes. Among other pluses it could also improve driver safety records and play a role in boosting morale. Earlier this year, Thomas Built Buses announced that

the WABCO OnGuardACTIVE advanced driver assis- tance collision mitigation system from ZF is available as a factory-installed option on some buses. Using for-

34 School Transportation News • JULY 2021

Cleveland Independent School District in Texas

ward-looking radar to detect objects up to 650 feet ahead of a school bus, the system provides audible, haptic and visual warnings of possible obstructions. It can detect a potential rear-end collision, engage active braking to automatically throttle down the engine, and apply the foundation brakes if necessary. An adaptive cruise control feature uses the system’s radar to help drivers maintain a safe following distance. It also maintains the set cruising speed when the lane ahead is clear and automatically adjusts the speed to maintain a set time interval between the bus and other vehicles ahead. These and other technology options, such as predictive stop-arm solutions and pedestrian detection systems, would seem to bode well for efforts to enhance school bus safety. As more buses are now including such features as standard offerings, or at least

as options, what is now considered cutting-edge will likely soon be routine. Cox said he considers himself among those who

strongly advise others to obtain collision avoidance technology, pointing out that it has been recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board for use on school buses. “I think we in the industry need to listen to the experts in accident investigations,” he said. “They have found that many deadly school bus [crashes] could have been avoided, or at least had fewer injuries, if the buses had this technology.” He added that while he has chosen “all the bells and

whistles,” the variety in levels of system complexity means others can start out with more modest applica- tions. But for Cox, the investment is a necessary one. “It’s important to remember we’re here to provide the

safest and most economical transportation,” he conclud- ed. “However, being cheap and not buying buses with the features is neither safe nor economical if you have accidents.” ●

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