“Most accidents that involve a school bus actually happen outside the bus, when children run into the road, step too close to the bus, or even kneel down to get something that has fallen under the bus,” said Leslie Kilgore, VP of engineering for Thomas Built Buses. “As diligent as bus drivers may be, sometimes they just can’t see a child around certain areas of the outside of the bus.”
Research indicates that nine out of 10 school districts in the U.S. and Canada are not currently using 360-degree camera systems to detect children at school bus stops, based on STN reader reports. The reasons why go beyond the expected answer of budgetary constraints and vehicle replacement cycles.
The need for the eventual, widespread adoption of sufficient exterior child-detection systems at bus stops seems especially urgent for younger students, who are more easily missed by drivers in blind spots. The National School Bus Loading & Unloading Zone Survey that was conducted by the Kansas State Department of Education, found that 73 percent of school bus stop fatalities over the past 50 years occurred to students who were 9 years of age and younger.
It appears that cost is only one of the factors in the low adoption rate of 360-degree camera systems that are designed to remove blind spots. The industry has yet had a demand of such systems, apparently due in part to a relative lack of competition and lack of understanding how the systems work.
Product acceptance in the industry is probably at least a decade away. The goal of quickly shrinking the Danger Zone via wide scale video and microwave systems will likely remain elusive for now.