U.S. school buses collectively travel more than four billion miles every year. Thanks to a combination of safety training and key innovations in the school bus industry, these buses are safer, cleaner, and more efficient than ever. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. With nearly 26 million children traveling on buses to and from school every day, bus-related accidents are inevitable. In fact, one study found that as many as 17,000 injuries occur on school buses annually.

In a recent webinar, Netradyne’s chief business development officer, Adam Kahn, discussed schools’ top bus safety concerns, as well as how video telematics systems help schools defend their safety culture and prevent accidents and injuries. 

The Basics of Video Telematics for School Safety

Video cameras are common in many school buses today. Typically, they’re set up inside buses to monitor both student and driver behavior. In recent years, video cameras have been integrated with AI data analytics, GPS tracking, and software. These advanced solutions gather significantly more information to help school districts boost their bus safety initiatives and protect students.

As a web-based system, video telematics sends data collected from all cameras and vehicle sensors to an online portal. Safety managers, fleet managers, dispatchers, and school transportation managers can login to see this information using dashboards on their laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Drivers can also use the system to proactively monitor their own performance via an app that displays a personal scorecard.

Data Collected By Video Telematics 

In addition to video footage from inside and outside the bus, video telematics systems also collect real-time data, like vehicle location, driving events (like rapid acceleration, swerving, and harsh braking), and much more. 

video telematics school bus visibility

How Video Telematics Prevent the Top 10 School Bus Safety Issues

Here’s how video telematics is helping school districts protect students both on and off the bus.

#1: Stop Arm Violations

According to a NASDPTS survey, each year an estimated 17 million drivers illegally pass school buses while their stop arms are deployed. Stop-arm cameras create a video of every infraction, and some states even allow districts to use these videos to issue tickets. Notably, 99 percent of drivers who receive a ticket never make that mistake again. These stop arm cameras can be integrated with video telematics systems. Using predictive analytics, telematics systems will monitor traffic and gauge when a stop arm violation is likely to happen to help protect students. 

#2: Student Behavior

Whether it’s bullying, theft, or inappropriate behavior, there’s a lot going on between student bus riders every day. Interior bus cameras can capture these interactions as well as record drivers. With video footage, schools no longer need to act as referees to resolve conflicting stories. Schools can run historical video reports to find out exactly what occurred. Playback software includes privacy blurring, and videos are synchronized with telematics data.

#3: Properly Trained Drivers

Advanced video telematics systems provide personalized driver training and in-cab safety alerts to help drivers refine and improve their performance. AI-powered in-cab coaching works by combining data from vehicle sensors and interior/exterior cameras. When a driver is making an error, an in-cab alert reminds them to make a correction, like slow down, create space between the car ahead, or put down the phone. This frictionless driver coaching creates better habits. As drivers improve, school transportation managers know who to congratulate and incentivize with rewards. Plus, performance across the fleet is tallied so school fleet managers know the overall safety of their fleet and the pace of driver improvement. 

severe alert scorecard

 

severe alert and compliance

#4: Rail Crossings

School bus drivers must make a full stop at least 15 feet before crossing railroad tracks, as well as listen and look both ways. If drivers are not consistent with this practice, they form bad habits that reduce bus safety. With video telematics, drivers know that everything inside and outside the bus is always monitored. Moreover, advanced systems provide drivers with in-cab alerts when the rules of the road aren’t followed to help them form better habits. 

#5: Special Needs Visibility 

A video camera can be mounted on top of the special needs entry door to ensure there’s proper loading and unloading. This video footage is very important in the event that a student is injured or a wheelchair is not secured. It’s incredibly valuable to be able to review exactly what happened in the event of a lawsuit, as well as for improving driver safety training.

#6: Faulty Equipment

Repair costs and vehicle downtime increase maintenance budgets and disrupt scheduling. Video telematics systems include vehicle sensors to provide insights into vehicle health and maintenance concerns before they become larger repairs. Plus, routine maintenance can be scheduled and even automated.

#7 and #8: School Site and Bus Route Safety

Advanced systems collect up to 200 hours of searchable video footage. Dash cam video combined with GPS tracking means that school districts can get a map-based view of every bus, live vehicle status (such as speed, direction, idling, stops), and reports to identify fuel savings and operational efficiencies. Managers can also drill down to see videos of every location on the bus route. This searchable video is useful in discussions with drivers and parents about any safety concerns from any location or any trip. 

#9: Getting On/Off Bus

More students are killed while getting on and off school buses annually than are killed as passengers. If a student trips, gets injured or falls out of the bus, schools need to understand the severity of the event. Videos facilitate conversations about these incidents and clarify what contributed to the injury. Videos can also be used to audit driver activities—if there are specific things drivers should be doing during loading and unloading, there’s a training opportunity. 

#10: Caution Around the Bus

School buses have quite a few blind spots. Video monitoring helps school buses prevent blind spot collisions by providing an in-cab monitor that displays a high-resolution 360° vision view of what is present in every blind spot. Besides interior and side cameras, rearview cameras ensure there are no pedestrians walking behind the school bus, while front view cameras on the hood helps protect students near the front bumper. 

Learn More

To get more insights, listen to the entire webinar “How Schools are Taking a New Approach to School Safety.” 


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Bobbi Farrow, Netradyne
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