A collision avoidance system is an vehicle safety system designed to reduce the severity of an accident. Also known as a pre-crash system, forward collision warning system or collision mitigating system, it uses radar (all-weather) and sometimes laser and camera (both sensor types are ineffective during bad weather) to detect an imminent crash. Once the detection is done, these systems either provide a warning to the driver when there is an imminent collision or take action autonomously without any driver input (by braking or steering or both). Collision avoidance by braking is appropriate at low vehicle speeds (below 35 mph), while collision avoidance by steering is appropriate at higher vehicle speeds. Vehicles with collision avoidance may also be equipped with adaptive cruise control, and use the same forward-looking sensors.
Could these systems be used in school buses? Absolutely! The only prohibitive factor is the cost. With many school districts on tight budgets and with a variety of other safety technologies competing for budget dollars, a collision avoidance system might not be at the top of most school bus buyer’s equipment lists at this time. But Trish Reed, vice president and general manager of Navistar’s IC Bus, says these systems could become a higher priority as the technology advances and becomes more cost effective for school districts.
On buses that have this safety system, fleets have reported 75% to 87% reduction in rear-end collisions and up to an 89% reduction in accident costs.
Buses are often rear-ended by inattentive motorists when the buses are stopped at bus stops or railroad crossings. Even if school buses are not equipped with the collision avoidance system, vehicles in the vicinity of the school buses that do have the safety systems, could positively affect school bus safety.