School Bus Fleet

November 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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17 N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 4 • S C H O O L B U S F L E E T in custody battles. When he conduct- ed an informal straw poll among his peers and supervisors on the subject, many said having an adult on board for student safety and behavior man- agement would be essential, Horton says. "The kids [may] say, 'Hey, we're rid- ing with no driver, we can do whatev- er we want,'" he explains. "There will probably be cameras all over the place. However, there's nothing like having military boots on the ground. Young people on a bus with no driver, that's almost temptation to do something." And that driver should be CDL- qualifed, he adds, in case of a main- tenance issue, so the vehicle could be driven back to the shop. "You don't want a driverless car [or school bus] to break down at a point where it would cause a problem, and you need quick access for rescue or evacuation should something go wrong." Horton also wonders who police would ticket in the case of an accident or fre, and what resources would be available on the vehicle to notify the authorities when help is needed. Summing up a con0sensus among nents manufacturer Denso Corp. dem- onstrated v2v technology, and Tesla, according to Business Insider, is work- ing on driverless car technology. Industry concerns Many in the transportation indus- try whom SBF reached out to for this story say they fnd the self-driving car concept exciting. The main question asked, though, was exactly how will that technological leap forward safely occur? Michael Martin, executive director of the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT), says one of many safety issues is the human factor; currently, even self-driving cars need an attentive driver. "Human error causes 90% of all acci- dents, so I think the theory is that if you remove the human element, you'll sig- nifcantly reduce accidents, and when you use active safety technology and autonomous technology, especially fo- cusing on crash prevention or pre-col- lision safety, [you'll] reduce distracted driving," he says. However, whether the technology will be widespread enough to see sig- nifcant benefts will be an issue. For the few initial automated or self-driv- ing cars on the road, there are no other vehicles to communicate with, Martin points out. "There's also an infrastruc- ture challenge across the board, not just for school transportation; a lot of autonomous technology requires [ve- hicle-to-infrastructure technology], technology-enabled roadways, and until we have smart roads, having smarter cars is not necessarily going to be a [signifcant] beneft. You're going to have to wait for those things to bal- ance out over time." Tim Flood, president of the Nation- al School Transportation Association (NSTA), along with Martin, says that although self-driving cars may be "a cure for distracted driving, we still need to see what the unintended con- sequences are." Security is a major concern among many who were interviewed, and John Horton, bus driver, Douglas County (Colo.) School District, outlined poten- tial scenarios, speculating that knowl- edge of a self-driving school bus could potentially attract terrorists, kidnap- pers, and divorced parents embroiled Connected vehicle technology, or v2v, en- ables vehicles to communicate with each other and/or the infrastructure by radio signals or Wi-Fi signals about their speed, location and direction 10 times a second to prevent crashes. NHTSA says the technol- ogy could potentially reduce non-impaired crash scenarios by more than 80%.

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